Shared posts

03 Aug 05:01

Passing the Torch

by Ian
Tertiarymatt

An age-old question.

Passing the Torch

03 Aug 01:35

RIP I'm Sorry

Tertiarymatt

I look forward to what replaces Yelling Bird.




Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.

I am tired of Yelling Bird comics so there will be NO MORE OF THEM, goodbye you shitty bird

03 Aug 02:21

(via Morphine - At Your Service (CD 1) (Full Album) - YouTube)

Tertiarymatt

Something I need to pick up. If you're not familiar with this band, well, check it out. So tremendous.

02 Aug 22:56

Hitchhiking Robot That Relied on Kindness of Strangers...

Tertiarymatt

This makes me really remarkably angry in a way that is a bit difficult to explain. I guess all I can say is: have a look at America. via ThePrettiestOne

01 Aug 09:00

Physics Week in Review: August 1, 2015

Tertiarymatt

Worth clicking thru for the graphene piece, at the least.

Folding graphene like origami, the physics of how cereal gets soggy, and left-handed W bosons are among this week's highlights.

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
22 Jul 17:02

Cut Spike 3.0

by David Driscoll
Tertiarymatt

This is also very tempting.

Batch three is here. Outside of Nebraska, you'll only find it at K&L.

My notes: When I first tasted the Cut Spike whiskey, I thought it was simply the best American single malt out there; a true revelation for the domestic category. However, as I'm now tasting the newest batch from the Nebraskan producer, I'm realizing that the whiskey is starting to morph into something very particular and unique to the brand. That classic creaminess is still very pervasive, but for the second time in a row there's a pronounced note of pine that soon mutates into ginger and Asian spices before quickly turning back into rich vanilla and oak on the finish; smoothly seeping its way into my taste buds as that last little sip goes down. What we're starting to witness here is the development of a house style--a flavor that defines this distillery. It's very exciting, and it's becoming infectious.

Kyle’s notes: With this being only their third release, the anticipation of what is in the bottle was very high: a chance to try and flesh out exactly what is the house style that the good distillers at Cut Spike bring to the table. This bottling does a great job of solidifying them in my mind as one of the highest quality single malt producers in the States. This whisky is incredibly vibrant and fresh without tasting young or harsh. The nose is lifted with bright notes of candied ginger and Douglas fir, a sense of promised vanilla sweetness wafts in at the end. In the mouth there is sweetness, orange marmalade, a hint of clove for spice, and then the same vanilla cream from last batch that really adds roundness to the palate.

David OG just got his bottle today, so he’ll chime in later. You’re going to want one, so you might as well just get it out of the way now.

Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt Whisky $59.99 - At first we couldn't believe our mouths. We knew that Cut Spike single malt had just taken Double Gold honors at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits competition (the highest possible honor), so obviously other people thought it was good, too. But after tasting so many mediocre American attempts at single malt whisky, we had become accustomed to the idea that the Scottish style of distillation would never be recreated here at home. There would be spin-offs, and experimental grasps at greatness, but that supple, malty profile would simply be something we needed to import from abroad. Then the folks at Cut Spike sent us a sample of their two year old Nebraskan single malt whisky made from 100% malted barley on a pot still crafted in Rothes, Scotland. Fermented at the brewery next door to Cut Spike in La Vista, the malt was matured for two years in new American oak with varying levels of char. The result is an incredible hybrid: soft, barley and vanilla-laden whisky that tastes somewhat like your standard Scottish single malt, but has its own unique character simultaneously. It's the kind of whisky that you taste once and enjoy, but then the next day suddenly crave intensely. It impresses you instantly, yet doesn't really reveal its full character until weeks later. The new oak blurs seamlessly into the malty mouthfeel, adding a richness on the finish normally not tasted in standard Scottish selections. Cut Spike is a major accomplishment for American distillation, pure and simple.

-David Driscoll

28 Jul 20:41

Whiskey Lover's Cognac

by David Driscoll
Tertiarymatt

I'd be quite interested to try this, I think.

A customer recently asked me in an email whether we had what I might refer to as a "whisky lover's Cognac". His goal was simple: he likes whiskey, he wants to try Cognac; which Cognac would be the best fit for a whiskey drinker?

What I ended up writing back was a prescription to try one of our new Armagnacs, explaining that the spice and the intensity of the Gascogne brandies are far more tailored to today's single malt or Bourbon fan. Cognac is often a spirit more suited for today's, well...Cognac consumer. They're blended to be smooth, soft, and seamless, rather than expressive and explosive. Most whiskey drinkers are searching for originality and individuality. They want to understand what makes each whiskey unique, so they look for different flavors and explanations as to why they exist. With Cognac, it's often about airbrushing away anything out of the ordinary in favor of the mainstream desire. It's about absolute harmony rather than artistic integrity. Not that one can't enjoy both sides of the spectrum (because I most definitely do), but rather that a Cognac bottle wouldn't be the first thing I reached for to put into the hands of a self-described Bourbon or single malt drinker.  But then I walked by the shelf today and I saw the 1996 Giboin Fins Bois Cognac that we just recently reloaded on. Actually....

Francois Giboin is an interesting guy. He's definitely not looking for uniformity and equality in his Cognacs (but I think he does sympathize with communism, so go figure). Unlike all other producers we deal with directly, Giboin is not located in the Grand Champagne or Petit Champagne; but rather in the Fins Bois—a region not known for producing a particularly fine spirit. But it was exactly because of that pre-conceived belief (that all the best Cognacs come from Grand Champagne) that we wanted to meet someone in the outer reaches of the Charentes who was actually bottling their own stuff. If Fins Bois was considered to be automatically inferior to the Champagne districts of Cognac, we wanted to at least know it for ourselves.

What I love about Giboin is that he's proud of his locale, so much so that he tells you all about it on the back label. There's a map of the six main crus, a sign that shows you his position, and an description of the property complete with family history. We liked him right off the bat. He definitely understood what we were looking for: a unique expression of flavor and place.

So we dug around Giboin's cellar and discovered the lovely little 1996 vintage, from which this most-recent batch was bottled in April of 2015. Still an 18 year old spirit, the earthy and leathery flavors, intermixed with the caramel and richness from the oak, make it one of the most rustic Cognacs I've ever tasted. Whereas almost all other Cognacs I've tasted showcase fruit and/or sweetness, you get neither on display in the Giboin. The nose is all caramel and vanilla, but it all instantly fades on the palate which brings forth a heavy dose of leather, savory spices, earth. It's a Cognac that is decidedly un-Cognac-like.

Whether it's for whiskey drinkers, I don't know. But if I had to pick one Cognac to put in a whiskey lover's hands, this is the one I'd pick. 

-David Driscoll

31 Jul 16:57

D2D Interview: Sam Neill

by David Driscoll

As far back as I can remember, I've loved watching scary movies. I was the kid at the video store who wandered into the horror section and obsessed over the covers of the VHS tapes, while his parents sat patiently waiting in the Disney section, hoping for a more appropriate selection. You might say that, in addition to the consumption of wine and spirits, the ingestion of cinematic terror and gore makes up what's left of my free time. That's why, when our New Zealand wine buyer Ryan Woodhouse told me that we might getting a tiny allocation of Sam Neill's pinot noir, I did a double-take. "You mean the actor Sam Neill?" I asked, my eyes ablaze in response. This was a dream come true. While most people know Sam from his world-famous appearances in Jurassic Park and The Piano, horror-fanatics like myself relish his roles in genre classics like The Omen: Final Conflict, In the Mouth of Madness, and Event Horizon. I must have watched In the Mouth of Madness, an eerie John Carpenter classic from the mid-90s that ran completely under the radar, at least fifty times during high school. "You're telling me Sam Neill makes pinot noir?" I asked Ryan in shock.

"Not just pinot noir; really good pinot noir," he answered.

Ryan reached under his desk and grabbed me a sample of the Two Paddocks pinot noir and poured me a glass. Apparently Sam and his local importer had just dropped by the store to taste the staff on the wines while I was away, and Ryan had saved a bit of the bottle for future tasting. It turns out that when Sam returned home to New Zealand to live in Central Otago, he had brought the Burgundy bug back with him. Living in London for many years, drinking the fine wines of the Cote d'Or had taken its toll on the actor, and he wound up moving right smack in the middle of the most distinctive pinot noir soil in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1993, he planted a few acres of vines nearby and founded Two Paddocks Winery, hoping to create a few hundred cases of delicious red wine for his own consumption. Over twenty years later, he's parcelling out small allocations of his coveted cuvee to fine wine retailers like K&L all over the world.

"So you're telling me that I could talk to Sam Neill about Burgundy and horror movies?" I asked Ryan with a huge smile.

"I think he'd be game," he replied with a grin.

In this edition of Drinking to Drink, we talk about the powerful effects of great Burgundy on the human psyche, being recognized as the antichrist by horror buffs, and how John Carpenter never eats anything but breakfast food from the diner. Previous editions of the D2D series can be found by clicking here, or by visiting the archive in the right hand margin of this page.

David: Have you always been into wine, or was this an interest that took hold later in life?

Sam: My family actually had a wine and spirits business for 150 years, so my roots are in alcohol. When I grew up there was always wine on the table at dinner. As far as my interest in good wine, that probably didn’t start until I was around thirty. Before that it was just plain alcohol, I think (laughs). Pretty much any alcohol would do. I think it coincided with me becoming more successful in my career as an actor, which meant I had a little more money in my pocket and I could afford to drink things that were less damaging, and more rewarding.

David: I didn’t realize you came from a family booze business. What did your parents do exactly?

Sam: Neill and Company imported wines and spirits from overseas to New Zealand; primarily from France and from Scotland. It was primarily whisky, brandy, and table wine. They were also general merchants, but their principle business was wine and spirits. They had very good connections in Bordeaux, and they had very a good-selling whisky. But people in those days weren’t particularly interested in wine in New Zealand, so it was pretty unusual to see a bottle of wine on the table. 

David: But that was normal for you.

Sam: It was normal in our house, yes. 

David: Did you reject that growing up, or did you embrace it? Did you see enjoying alcohol as something your parents did that you wanted to get away from possibly, or were you learning about it from a young age?

Sam: By the time I left home—which was as soon as I possibly could because I wanted to be independent—I was impoverished. At that point, I drank whatever I could afford mostly.

David: How old were you when you left?

Sam: I was about nine or ten. I went to boarding school, and then the university. The last time I really lived at home I was quite young, so when I started drinking I was at school, I’m ashamed to say (laughs). But I’ve never been a heavy drinker. I’ve never been in danger of being an alcoholic, I don’t think. 

David: Where were you in your acting career when you started taking more of an appreciation in wine?

Sam: It was probably about the time I got to London. I did the third of The Omen films and I was beginning to earn some decent money. James Mason, who was a great friend and a mentor to me and who loved good food and wine, took me to some excellent restaurants where I ate like I had never eaten before; and drank wines that I had never ever imagined. One of those dinners was extremely memorable because we had Burgundy, and I had never heard of it. I didn’t know what it was, but it was one of those light bulb moments, you know? I was on the road to Damascus. 

David: I’ve been there. What was the wine, do you remember? Do you remember what stood out for you?

Sam: I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it at the time, but I had never drank anything like it. I wanted to understand it and to know more about it. I’d like to think it was a Gevrey-Chambertin, but I couldn’t swear to it. It had all these things that I had never tasted in life before. It had integration, depth, complexity, and a long finish—all things that I take as required these days! But I had never experienced them before that.

David: And what happened from there? You started looking for more wines like that?

Sam aboard the spaceship Event Horizon

Sam: Then I found myself living in London and there was a great wine shop down the road where they knew I was interested in Burgundy, so they would recommend things each time I came in. I started to learn my way around the region. I wasn’t on to it right away, however, I was sort of confused by the Côte d’Or. I thought it might be a place where you’d put your Bordeaux on a beach. It sounded like somewhere a lot sunnier than Burgundy. So it took me a while, and I still have quite a lot to learn about Burgundy, to be honest.

David: I think we all do. How did it work out for you, living in London, while working in the American film industry? Did that make it more difficult?

Sam: My career became more Euro-centric rather than American-centric, I guess. I think looking back the majority of my career has been either in Europe or Australia. I might have done more work in the states if I had been based out of Los Angeles, but I ended up in London and enjoyed myself; met a girl, all that usual stuff (laughs).

David: That’s great you were able to do it that way. I often wish I could live in London and still keep my job at K&L. That would be my dream! Maybe that’s why as an actor you have one of the most interesting and eclectic careers. You’ve been in huge blockbusters like Jurassic Park—which is now big again—and you’ve also made quite a career in horror. You’re in two of my all-time favorite horror movies: In the Mouth of Madness and Event Horizon. At the time, for me, those were movies I watched on repeat, over and over. In fact, the original name of my band in high school was “Sutter Cane” after Jürgen Prochnow’s character in that film. I was obsessed with John Carpenter back then. What was it like working with him, by the way?

Sam: I like John a lot. I actually did another film with him as well: Memoirs of an Invisible Man. We got on very well. There’s something about people who make horror films and films that are rather violent: they’re always the mildest, kindest, quietest people you could meet. John’s a bit like that. He’s the last person you would expect to be the horror master.

David: Did you ever get to have a drink with him?

Sam: I honestly can’t remember John drinking at all. He only eats breakfast; that’s all he eats. He will not go to fancy restaurants; he hates them. He just likes diner food, basically. He likes bacon, eggs, and muffins—that kind of stuff. That’s all he eats. He doesn’t have any interest in good food (laughs). 

David: Would you say that most actors like to drink though?

Sam: Pretty much most people I’ve worked with are interested in both food and wine. One thing we can say fairly about actors is that—as a generalization—they’re really good company, they’re usually very funny people, and they like to go out and have a good time. In both things that I do—acting and making wine—the most important thing is the people you’re with. The people who are involved with you in the same crazy project. Wine has certainly been like that for me. All these things like terroir, root stock, climate, and viticulture—all these things are important—but the most important component to the making of wine is the people. The most important component of a film or television project is the people. In both, I think I’m very lucky to have found myself with some of the best people you can imagine.

David: You’ve been involved with Two Paddocks—your wine project—since 1993. This is around Jurassic Park time. How did you get involved with growing pinot noir in Central Otago? What was the motivation?

Sam: As I was saying earlier, I had become more interested in pinot noir, and then I found that it could be grown successfully in Central Otago, which is where I live. It seemed too crazy of a coincidence that not only was it possible to live in the best place in the world, but also to produce the best wine in the world there. It seemed like a no-brainer. I had a little spare cash in my back pocket and I started with only a few humble acres in a very unlikely spot. Four years later we had our first vintage—in 1997—and we realized that this unlikely spot was the sweet spot. I thought this is probably enough, I’ll just leave it at that. I think we were producing in those days something like 600 cases a year, and that seemed to be plenty; more than I could drink. 

David: Were you selling it outside of New Zealand, or was this a local thing with friends and family?

Sam: We got up to about 800 cases before we started going strong. After that it was like I had been bitten by a big bug. In 1998, having seen those results, I found another sweet spot at the other end of the region, and I thought, “I want to double production,” so I planted another five acres. Now it’s four vineyards, so what started as a very tiny project has become a little less tiny. We’re always going to be very limited in our production, and we allocate our wine very sparingly. I think we’re probably up to about 8,000 cases a year, and—of that—there’s probably only 1500 that are from our premium wines. Those are the ones we direct towards you guys—towards K&L. 

Sam being restrained from the mouth of madness.

David: Other than the fact that it’s your project, what’s your favorite part about your wine? What’s most enthralling?

Sam: I don’t pretend to be in any way some kind of an expert. I know a lot more than I used to—when we started I knew nothing at all about winemaking. But my principle directive to the people who work with me is: I’m interested in restraint. I’m not at all interested in big, loud-mouthed, new world styles. While we don’t suppress that exuberance in the fruit, we do use restraint in the vineyard, as well as in the winery. What’s been very pleasing to me is that we produce what I think is subtle, profound, and beautiful wine, and it’s nice when other people agree with me on that (laughs). That gives me great pleasure.

David: It’s clear from talking to you, and having tasted the wines, that you have a real passion for wine and for wines of real delicacy and nuance—like Burgundian wines, for example. Do you find that being a celebrity ever hinders that message? Like wine retailers don’t take the project as seriously because you’re a famous actor?

Sam: I think that’s always going to happen, so that’s the first elephant I shoot when I walk into the room. It’s also easily done because—first of all—I’ve never really been a celebrity. You don’t see me in magazines, my life is private, my family lives an obscure and private life, and I think it’s evident to people in the wine world that I’m not just putting my name on a label. This is something that I’ve been committed to for twenty-three years; that I started from scratch. I’m still the lieutenant at the head of my own little army. 

David: Right, you were involved with Two Paddocks before people even knew wine was being made in New Zealand, let alone world-class wine. I think with the work that Ryan (Woodhouse) is doing, and the work that growers like yourself are doing, to bring these wines to a new audience, for the first time ever you’re seeing Burgundy drinkers crossover and accept what’s going on down there. I know that’s been the case for me—personally speaking. And it’s a clear answer: it’s because it tastes better. As a wine geek you know these heralded vineyard names—Richebourg, Echezeaux, Chassagne-Montrachet—that have so much romanticism to them. But when I do side-by-side tastings these days and I evaluate purely on flavor, I’m finding that some of the best pinot noirs in our store are coming from New Zealand. Not just good wines, but some of the best wines in the world.

Sam: And put the price-points up against each other. It’s interesting how that works out (laughs).

David: Right! The prices are almost too good to be believed sometimes. It’s almost difficult to explain to customers because they think you’re under-selling them; like the wines can’t be world-class if they only cost $20 or $30. But we convert them eventually. All they need to do is try a bottle.

Sam: Well, we appreciate the missionary work. 

David: It’s hard fought! (laughs)

Sam: You’re bringing light to somewhere where there was only darkness before.

David: Speaking of darkness, does everyone who meets you have to make an Omen reference, or a joke about you being the antichrist?

Sam: No, this is probably the first one I’ve had in about three months.

David: (laughs) That’s still pretty recent! It’s funny because you’re in all kinds of other great movies that are not scary and that are serious and well-acted films—like The Piano or The Hunt for Red October—all these critically-acclaimed movies where your acting is on full display.

The Two Paddocks estate in Central Otago

Sam: I’m in a show on Netflix right now called Peaky Blinders, have you seen that?

David: I just started yesterday! With Cillian Murphy. Although I only got about fifteen minutes in before I had to turn it off and run a quick errand. 

Sam: I’m pretty scary in that.

David: I haven’t made it to you yet. I just saw him trot into town on the horse, and then my phone rang.

Sam: Persist for another couple of minutes and then I turn up. I think you’ll be very afraid. 

David: I’m still afraid of Event Horizon! My wife can’t even look at that film anymore because it had such an impact on us. I was high school when that came out and I’ll always remember the scene when they get the black hole footage to work and you see what happened on board this ship as they went through the porthole. We all screamed and closed our eyes. Your horror roles were so impressionable for me in my youth. It’s been really cool to be able to talk with you about two of my biggest interests.

Sam: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those movies, but I think you’ll definitely enjoy Peaky Blinders. It’s a very cool show.

David: Who’s someone you would want to have a drink with if you could choose anyone—living or deceased?

Sam: I think Robert Mitchum was the coolest man who was ever in the movies. I’d like to have met him.

David: How appropriate as he was also in two very scary films: Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter.  Which one do you think he was scarier in?

Sam: I liked him in everything that he did. There was something about him that was just beyond cool. I would have liked to have looked at that cool up close and seen what it was.​

------------------------

If you are indeed interested in obtaining some of Sam's incredible Two Paddocks wines, we have a very limited supply available on special order below. Less than 50 cases of each wine came into the United States this year, so we're talking extremely limited:

2013 Two Paddocks "The First Paddock" Pinot Noir Central Otago $74.99 - Winemaker's Notes: Sourced from the first twenty-five rows of Clone 5, which was planted in Gibbston at The First Paddock vineyard in 1993. Hand harvested and sorted then a 50% whole bunch indigenous ferment in a dedicated First Paddock French oak cuve. Matured in 30% new French oak with the balance in older wood for an extended 14 months of barrel maturation. Bramble, underbrush, black fruit and spicy aromatics, followed by a mineral infused palate. Ethereal in nature with great mid palate density and drive.

2012 Two Paddocks Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago $49.99 - Two Paddocks flagship Pinot Noir - an estate grown, barrel selection from the three small Neill family vineyards in Central Otago. These vineyards are high-density planted in a range of clonal material and intensively "man-handled" with most vineyard practices carried out by hand. In 2012, this wine was 100% Alexandra fruit from the Redbank and Alex Paddocks sites. Again, each block and clone was picked and fermented separately, with the final blending taking place prior to bottling. Redcurrant, spice and wild black exotic fruit aromatics followed by a strongly driven wine showing great texture and elegance."

2014 Two Paddocks Estate Riesling Central Otago $34.99 - Winemaker's Notes: Two Paddocks Riesling is an estate grown single block selection made from fruit grown at Two Paddocks’ Redbank Vineyard situated in Earnscleugh, Central Otago. As in the vineyard, this wine was handcrafted using traditional methods and bottled early to ensure all the integrity and vitality of the wine was preserved. The soils in this block are well draining schist loam and the vines tend to thrive. Additionally the typically extreme diurnal temperatures experienced in Alexandra (Earnscleugh) between day and night are responsible for both metabolising acidity and retaining an intense flavour profile - all this really means is that we feel a drier wine style is both possible and appropriate. This wine displays pink grapefruit, freshly squeezed limes and spicy loquat aromatics.  There is a taut mineral tension feel on the palate, elegant textural weight and very long persistence.

To learn more about Two Paddocks Winery click here.

-David Driscoll 

31 Jul 09:00

Clarity Is Job One

by Christopher Wright
Tertiarymatt

A THING MAY HAVE OCCURRED

30 Jul 16:42

"Count-Up" Is More Accurate

by Christopher Wright
13 Jul 19:16

Form Vs Essence

by Brad
Tertiarymatt

#SamHarrisiswrong beat

My friend Gesshin Greenwood wrote a great article in the current issue of Buddhadharma magazine. It’s the cover story! Do you know how many times I’ve gotten the cover story in one of the Buddhist magazines? Let me go through my files and count. OK. Here you go… never. Not once. But am I bitter? NO! Because I am above all bitterness! I am that f—ing enlightened!

Anyway. Whatever.

Gesshin’s story is all about whether one can strip away the cultural forms of Buddhism and get to its real essence. Regular readers will know that this is one of my favorite pet themes.

The Mindfulness™ movement takes the stance that yes, we can strip away the forms of Buddhism and toss them aside while only dealing with the important essentials. Sam Harris says, “Most people who teach mindfulness are still in the religion business. If you are declaring yourself a Buddhist you are part of the problem of religious sectarianism that has needlessly shattered our world. And I think we have to get out of the religion business.”

In her article, Gesshin gives us her teacher’s metaphor of Buddhism as wheel where the essence is at the center and the forms are at the rim. The wheel can’t move forward without its rim. She also talks about this common image of “stripping away” the forms of Buddhism to find the naked truth inside and says maybe we should get to know each other a little better before we get naked.

The way I see the history of Buddhism is that our man Siddhartha or Gautama, the historical Buddha, tried out various religious approaches to the problem of what life was and how to live it and found them wanting. So he looked deeply within himself and found another way. He also found that rituals are very useful in making what is merely intellectual into something that involves the body as well as the mind. When you wear a special costume, you tend to embody the spirit of that costume. When you put on a bunny outfit you feel like a bunny. When you put on Buddhist robes you feel like embodying the essence of Buddhism.

Sam Harris also says, “It just so happens Buddhism almost uniquely has given us a language and a methodology to do this (turn consciousness upon itself and thereby discover truth) that is really well designed for export into secular culture because you can get to the core truths of Buddhism — the truth of selflessness, the ceaseless impermanence of mental phenomena, the intrinsic unsatisfactoriness of experience. These features of our minds can be fully tested and understood without believing in anything on insufficient evidence. So it’s true to say that despite all the spooky metaphysics and unjustified claims of Buddhism you can get to the core of it without any faith claim and without being intellectually dishonest.”

Now here he is not talking just about trashing the bowing and incense lighting and chanting and funny clothes and haircuts. He’s saying we can also dump pretty much all of what my teacher called “Buddhist philosophy” too. I don’t feel like either of these is a very good idea, because if you do so it’s like trying to reinvent physics because you don’t like Einstein’s ideas about mustache grooming or Stephen Hawking’s preference for the far inferior Star Trek: The Next Generation over the much better Star Trek: The Original Series.

It’s true that people hear talk about karma or the Four Noble Truths or the Buddhist Precepts, or hear ideas about rebirth and about Bodhisattvas who can offer us help although they are either long dead people or entirely made up beings; they hear those things and assume they are spooky metaphysics or unjustified claims that must be accepted on faith. Unfortunately sometimes Buddhism really is taught that mistaken way. In his book Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist Stephen Batchelor says that’s how Tibetan Buddhism was presented to him, as a set of untestable doctrines that must be believed.

That’s the wrong way to understand Buddhist philosophy.

The right way to understand all that stuff is like this. For thousands of years across a variety of cultures, people who meditate have tried to put their experiences into words that they hoped others who did not meditate would get. Because our entire way of understanding life, the universe, and everything is fundamentally wrong, these teachers were forced to speak in metaphors. But all of the best Buddhist teachers said this quite explicitly. Quoting the historical Buddha, Dogen said, “Our Highest Ancestor in India, Shakyamuni Buddha, once said, ‘The snowcapped Himalayas are a metaphor for the great nirvana.’ When he uses the term ‘snow-capped Himalayas’, he is using the actual snowcapped Himalayas as a metaphor, just as when he uses the term ‘great nirvana’, he is using the actual great nirvana as a metaphor.” So even “great nirvana” is just as much of a metaphor as “snow-capped Himalayas.” This is only a single example. There are thousands more throughout all of Buddhist philosophy.

What these teachers have left for us is far too often treated as if it is Holy Scripture. But it’s not. Like all supposed “Holy Scripture” it is the words of people like us trying to convey an experience that is, in some ways, holy but also very human. As Chung-La said, “Before Buddhas were enlightened they were the same as we. Enlightened people of today are exactly as those of old.” If we learn to read the words of ancient Buddhist teachers in that spirit, we no longer see them as doctrines that must be accepted on faith alone but as attempts to tell us about an experience that is not easy to put in words.

It’s a kind of cultural arrogance to think that we can figure out what’s truly important in Buddhism better than the people who’ve been practicing it for centuries. I myself spent years believing that I understood Buddhism much better than those stuffy old Buddhists of ancient Asia. So I get it. But I never really understood what the forms of Buddhism actually were until I started doing them, and I never really understood what the so-called “doctrines” of Buddhism were until I actually started working with them.

So maybe try working with the tradition a little bit before you dismiss it all as useless baggage.

UPCOMING EVENTS

August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP

September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED

September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT

October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

* * *

The form and essence of my economic life is your donations. I appreciate your on-going support!

28 Jul 22:53

No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded)

Tertiarymatt

Well, this is a thing, right here.

For decades now, I have been haunted by the grainy, black-and-white x-ray of a human skull.

It is alive but empty, with a cavernous fluid-filled space where the brain should be. A thin layer of brain tissue lines that cavity like an amniotic sac. The image hails from a 1980 review article in Science: Roger Lewin, the author, reports that the patient in question had “virtually no brain”. But that’s not what scared me; hydrocephalus is nothing new, and it takes more to creep out this ex-biologist than a picture of Ventricles Gone Wild.

The stuff of nightmares. (From Oliviera et al 2012)

The stuff of nightmares. (From Oliviera et al 2012)

What scared me was the fact that this virtually brain-free patient had an IQ of 126.

He had a first-class honors degree in mathematics. He presented normally along all social and cognitive axes. He didn’t even realize there was anything wrong with him until he went to the doctor for some unrelated malady, only to be referred to a specialist because his head seemed a bit too large.

It happens occasionally. Someone grows up to become a construction worker or a schoolteacher, before learning that they should have been a rutabaga instead. Lewin’s paper reports that one out of ten hydrocephalus cases are so extreme that cerebrospinal fluid fills 95% of the cranium. Anyone whose brain fits into the remaining 5% should be nothing short of vegetative; yet apparently, fully half have IQs over 100. (Why, here’s another example from 2007; and yet another. Let’s call them VBNs, or “Virtual No-Brainers”)

The paper is titled “Is Your Brain Really Necessary?”, and it seems to contradict pretty much everything we think we know about neurobiology. This Forsdyke guy over in Biological Theory argues that such cases open the possibility that the brain might utilize some kind of extracorporeal storage, which sounds awfully woo both to me and to the anonymous neuroskeptic over at Discovery.com; but even Neuroskeptic, while dismissing Forsdyke’s wilder speculations, doesn’t really argue with the neurological facts on the ground. (I myself haven’t yet had a chance to more than glance at the Forsdyke paper, which might warrant its own post if it turns out to be sufficiently substantive. If not, I’ll probably just pretend it is and incorporate it into Omniscience.)

On a somewhat less peer-reviewed note, VNBs also get routinely trotted out by religious nut jobs who cite them as evidence that a God-given soul must be doing all those things the uppity scientists keep attributing to the brain. Every now and then I see them linking to an off-hand reference I made way back in 2007 (apparently rifters.com is the only place to find Lewin’s paper online without having to pay a wall) and I roll my eyes.

And yet, 126 IQ. Virtually no brain. In my darkest moments of doubt, I wondered if they might be right.

So on and off for the past twenty years, I’ve lain awake at night wondering how a brain the size of a poodle’s could kick my ass at advanced mathematics. I’ve wondered if these miracle freaks might actually have the same brain mass as the rest of us, but squeezed into a smaller, high-density volume by the pressure of all that cerebrospinal fluid (apparently the answer is: no). While I was writing Blindsight— having learned that cortical modules in the brains of autistic savants are relatively underconnected, forcing each to become more efficient— I wondered if some kind of network-isolation effect might be in play.

Now, it turns out the answer to that is: Maybe.

Three decades after Lewin’s paper, we have “Revisiting hydrocephalus as a model to study brain resilience” by de Oliviera et al. (actually published in 2012, although I didn’t read it until last spring). It’s a “Mini Review Article”: only four pages, no new methodologies or original findings— just a bit of background, a hypothesis, a brief “Discussion” and a conclusion calling for further research. In fact, it’s not so much a review as a challenge to the neuro community to get off its ass and study this fascinating phenomenon— so that soon, hopefully, there’ll be enough new research out there warrant a real review.

The authors advocate research into “Computational models such as the small-world and scale-free network”— networks whose nodes are clustered into highly-interconnected “cliques”, while the cliques themselves are more sparsely connected one to another. De Oliviera et al suggest that they hold the secret to the resilience of the hydrocephalic brain. Such networks result in “higher dynamical complexity, lower wiring costs, and resilience to tissue insults.” This also seems reminiscent of those isolated hyper-efficient modules of autistic savants, which is unlikely to be a coincidence: networks from social to genetic to neural have all been described as “small-world”. (You might wonder— as I did— why de Oliviera et al. would credit such networks for the normal intelligence of some hydrocephalics when the same configuration is presumably ubiquitous in vegetative and normal brains as well. I can only assume they meant to suggest that small-world networking is especially well-developed among high-functioning hydrocephalics.) (In all honesty, it’s not the best-written paper I’ve ever read. Which seems to be kind of a trend on the ‘crawl lately.)

The point, though, is that under the right conditions, brain damage may paradoxically result in brain enhancement. Small-world, scale-free networking— focused, intensified, overclockedmight turbocharge a fragment of a brain into acting like the whole thing.

Can you imagine what would happen if we applied that trick to a normal brain?

If you’ve read Echopraxia, you’ll remember the Bicameral Order: the way they used tailored cancer genes to build extra connections in their brains, the way they linked whole brains together into a hive mind that could rewrite the laws of physics in an afternoon. It was mostly bullshit, of course: neurological speculation, stretched eight unpredictable decades into the future for the sake of a story.

But maybe the reality is simpler than the fiction. Maybe you don’t have to tweak genes or interface brains with computers to make the next great leap in cognitive evolution. Right now, right here in the real world, the cognitive function of brain tissue can be boosted— without engineering, without augmentation— by literal orders of magnitude. All it takes, apparently, is the right kind of stress. And if the neuroscience community heeds de Oliviera et al‘s clarion call, we may soon know how to apply that stress to order. The singularity might be a lot closer than we think.

Also a lot squishier.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if things turned out to be that easy?

28 Jul 19:56

Heavy Metal Yoga Is a Thing

Tertiarymatt

#DoomHippieActivities

Heavy Metal Yoga Is a Thing

It's a Tuesday night and I am sitting on a yoga mat in the back of a former grocery store in Pittsburgh, spreading my legs as far as they can go. I reflexively turn to see how the woman next to me is managing her dragonfly pose when I realize I can barely see her. The room is lit only by two tin can-shaped-and-sized lights sitting in corners they offer about as much illumination as a pair of Yankee jar candles. Kimee Massie, the heavily tattooed instructor, comes over to help me put a foam block under my ass. It gives me some leverage and I feel a greater stretch in my inner thighs, but I still look over again to see how far the woman on the neighboring mat has gotten. I squint and make out the words on her t-shirt: "Fuck This. I'm Going Skateboarding."

Meanwhile, there is a dark, droning sound coming out of the stereo. Imagine the hiss that is omnipresent in David Lynch's Eraserhead overlapped by the slow diddling of an autistic noise-rock guitarist. It's oddly comforting in its non-invasiveness and consistency and I remember to inhale deeply.

See also: Interview: David Lynch on Creativity, Meditation, and Collective Experience (But Nothing on That New Sparklehorse / Danger Mouse Collaboration)

This is Black Yoga, a take on the ancient Indian practice/frequent girlfriend bonding ritual for those who "get bored with the sound of birds and waterfalls," says Kimee, who concocted the class with her husband Scott (vocalist of a thrash band called Storm King). The room is dark, the new-age talk kept to a minimum, and the soundtrack a mix of trip-hop, industrial rock and doom metal.

"I don't think of it as better or worse than your typical yoga class--just different, for a different crowd," says Kimee (who also teaches more a traditional class at a suburban health spa).

The Massies--a definitively alt couple who are both covered from neck to toe in black clothing and tattoo ink-- hit on the idea during Kimee's second year as an instructor. They were on a road trip and wondered if there was a play list for a yoga class somewhere in the massive collection of CDs from dark, commercially unnoticed alt-rock subgenres they brought along.

Scott, who is used to shifting through the work of fringe bands as the head of a small label called the Innervenus Music Collective, compiled the first few mix CDs, with selections from the likes of Earth, Dark Space, Sunn O))) and two bands whose names indicated they were formed just for a project like this: Om and Dark Buddha Rising.

All are bands from the darker, more ambient fringes of heavy metal, but Scott says, "It's not so much about finding the right kind of bands as it is the right kind of songs. Every band we like has that one obscure song that could work. I put the mellowest song from Type O Negative on one these CDs."

Mellowness is actually an important factor for Black Yoga (sometimes stylized as Black Yo)))ga in honor of Sunn O))), the standard bearers of doom rock). The songs must share a few traits with the warm mood music and sitar jam sessions more common in yoga studio stereos: They have to be atmospheric and non-intrusive. Kimee doesn't want anything rhythmic or loud enough to distract students from their poses.

"I think people see the flyers and assume we are head-banging to Sepultura and calling it yoga," says Scott. "That is definitely not the case."

Still, they have attracted a slew of punk and metal musicians to their twice-weekly classes (held on Tuesdays in a brick storefront that was once a mom-and-pop grocery and now hosts a weekend holistic mini-mall and on Wednesdays in the back of a printing shop). On the night I went, I spotted what was obvious a de-spiked Mohawk in the crowd. The Massies say the classes often have an even male-female ratio. This one was more like one man for every two women, which by yoga standards is still a sausage party. (Most yoga classes have the male-female ratio of a Stephanie Meyer book signing.)

Kimee says one reason she flips the light switch is to create a nonjudgmental environment for a crowd that might not live and breathe fitness--to defuse the aspect of yoga class that has become like the gym, a show-off spot for gorgeous people in tights (though the lighting is still enough to make out her poses as she leads).

Heavy Metal Yoga Is a Thing

My hour of Black Yoga also made me realize how seldom in other classes I listened to the instructor. Instead, I followed the students around me. Yoga in the dark provides a solid link from teacher to pupil. My only reliable cues were Kimee's commands of "bend your right knee" or "hands in heart position."

But of course, the truly unique feature of the class was the soundtrack, which is a pleasant relief from some of the more bullshitty aspects of yoga.

Yoga asks you to embrace peace and serenity, not just for 90 minutes but as a pervading, self-cultivated outlook, a message bolstered by chanting-and-nature-sounds playlists. I always valued yoga as a low-impact workout that made me feel really, really good -- a perfect mix of self-massage and endorphin release -- but I'm too cynical for the more meditative part of it. Whenever the stick-figure woman at the front of the class launches into a Maharishi routine, I find myself tuning out and glancing at the perfect apricot-shaped asses around me. At best, yoga it offers me a break from my life as an impoverished millennial with an instable freelance career and intimacy issues, not a solution to it.

See also: Nitty Scott MC Talks Psychedelic Pizza and Meditating Weed Rappers

Peace and serenity are not what doom metal, the central genre of Scott's playlists, are about. Bands like Earth and Sunn O))) relay the opposite: a feeling of strife, anxiety and occasionally eminent death. I listened to their hissing static and lumbering guitar as I moved through poses, and I felt like I wasn't being asked to part with my stress and angst. The sound of trepidation was right there on the stereo -- but it was small, manageable and came in a predictable rhythm, and I was still able to work towards something as I experienced it.

Maybe for cynics and hard asses attracted to metal that's a more honest and appealing message than that of birds and waterfalls.

A Black Yoga Playlist: 
New Risen Throne - "Orbiting Gates"
 Sunn O))) - "Orakulum"
 Genocide Organ - "Their Mighty Slaughter"
 Wolves in the Throne Room - "Dia Artio" 
Mustard Gas and Roses - "IV" 
Ulver - "Theme 03"
 Earth - "Raiford (The Felon Wind)" 
Bunk Data - "Angelus Rector"

The 25 Creepiest Heavy Metal Album Covers Our Favorite Online Resources for Metal Knowledge How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide

Follow @soundofthecity

22 Jul 19:52

Why I Don’t Do Psychedelic Drugs

by Brad
Tertiarymatt

Many of these objections are, I think, kind of uniformed, weak-sauce add-ons to objection number one. Ironically, for some people a meditation practice is potentially as dangerous as taking drugs, and having proper set, setting, and a sitter matter tremendously for safe meditation as well. This is why people are constantly saying "find a teacher, find a teacher".

MDMA is a truly potent and impressive compound that can radically alter people's lives for the better, though (as are LSD and psilocybin). It has huge promise in treating things like PTSD.

EcstacyMollyPills350A couple days ago I participated in a webinar about Buddhism and Psychedelics presided over by Allan Badiner, author of the book Zig Zag Zen.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Badiner referenced something I’d said earlier. I was talking about my previous experiences with LSD. The fourth and final time I took it, I had an incredibly bad trip that scared the bejesus out of me. After our session was over he told me that maybe I wasn’t doing psychedelics anymore just because I was scared of them. He said that if I were to try any again I ought to do MDMA (aka Ecstasy, Molly, “E”, etc.). He said it had opened his heart and made him more compassionate.

So I thought about it, and I asked myself why I do not do psychedelics. Can I answer that question and not just give a knee-jerk reaction? Because if I just said it’s because of Buddha’s Fifth Precept against using intoxicants, aren’t I just like someone who says, “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”?

So here’s why I don’t do psychedelics. Not why you shouldn’t. Why I don’t.

Number One, they scare me. The last time I tripped was an epic nightmare. You can read all about it in my book Hardcore Zen. I spent most of that night in abject terror on a drug I desperately wanted out of my system with no choice but to wait until it wore off. I also lost my concept of time, so even though I understood that I’d be OK again in a few hours, I could not figure out what an hour was to save my life. The concept was still available to my brain, but I could not make any sense of it. So for all I knew I was going to stay high and terrified forever.

But that’s not the only reason I don’t do those drugs. I spent a few minutes after the webinar was over just letting my mind roll over the possibility of getting ahold of some MDMA and trying it out for myself to see what actually happens. Then I realized a few things.

For one thing, I wouldn’t trust any so-called “MDMA” I might be able to get in Los Angeles no matter what the source claimed. At best, it would be something cooked up by some dodgy chemist in a basement mixing up stuff to sell to high school kids. I would not be able to fool myself into believing that the major market for this drug is responsible adults engaged in safe consciousness exploration in controlled environments.

Bull shit. If you’re making MDMA — or LSD, or growing ‘shrooms, etc. — your target market isn’t a handful of people using that suff as a sacrament for religious purposes. Your target market is kids who wanna party. I don’t want to support the people who supply that market or put anything they make into my body.

You might be inclined to counter that by asking if I examine the entire manufacturing and distribution chain of everything I purchase to determine if it was sourced ethically. Obviously the answer is “No.” But that’s irrelevant. I may not be certain whether or not underpaid children in a sweatshop in Malaysia made my shoes, but I do know for certain that any MDMA or other psychedelic drug I might purchase comes from a highly unethical source.

I also don’t want to incapacitate myself for an indeterminate length of time and require someone to babysit me. Because that’s what all the “set and setting” crap that people who are into drug-based consciousness exploration talk about really means. It means someone sober has got to be around to make sure I don’t hurt myself. Who am I to demand someone look after me like I’m a child?

And what about all this stuff where people say MDMA or other such substances made them more compassionate? Does this mean that now that the ravers of the 90s are adults we live in a kinder, gentler world where everybody’s nice because they all learned real compassion from listening to techno music while high on Molly? I don’t see it. Plus, I hung around a bunch of young MDMA fans on a few occasions recently. They were no more compassionate than anyone else I ever met, in fact they were kind of jerks to each other.

Real compassion is a skill. It’s not just a big warm fuzzy feeling in your “heart space.” It’s knowing what to do with that feeling. It’s knowing when it’s appropriate to get all huggy and when it’s not. Because sometimes a hug is the least compassionate response. And sometimes being all warm and cuddly is a way to run away from what really needs to be done.

Also, one of the best reasons not to do those drugs is staring every single user right in the face every single time they use it. After our conversation Allan Badiner very kindly and in the interest of being helpful sent me an email detailing how to use MDMA properly if I ever wanted to try it out. It involved taking a large dose of Vitamin C first, along with magnesium and amino acid supplements both before and after the MDMA. And, of course, the proper “set and setting” which includes the aforementioned babysitter.

The fact that I’d need to do so much preparation indicates to me that maybe I’d be doing something that’s kind of dangerous and probably not actually good for me.

As a Buddhist I would also have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to try to convince myself it was proper behavior. For example, apparently a lot of folks into Buddhist-based drug-induced consciousness exploration like to say that the Fifth Precept was actually specifically about alcohol and can be extended to other supposedly “consciousness restricting” drugs but does not apply to “consciousness expanding” drugs.

No. Sorry. The precept is not against alcohol or drugs. It’s for sobriety. It’s not saying “don’t get drunk.” It’s saying “stay sober.” There is a difference.

Besides, “consciousness expanding” drugs were well known and widely used in India in Buddha’s time for spiritual exploration. There is no evidence the early Buddhists used them at all. The whole argument is so full of holes I couldn’t possibly accept it on any terms.

More to the point, if I have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to justify any action, that is a clue that the action itself is problematic and probably ought to be avoided.

So that’s why you won’t see me at any raves any time soon. Besides, I hate techno music.

UPCOMING EVENTS

August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE

September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP

September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED

September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT

October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

* * *

If you send a donation it will not be spent on Molly. I appreciate your on-going support!

27 Jul 22:07

Current status.(via wikimedia commons)



Current status.

(via wikimedia commons)

27 Jul 15:27

Sticking to the Script

by Christopher Wright
Tertiarymatt

Helpdesk returns.

22 Jul 02:02

sweetteascience: urbpan: wheremyfeetfall: sarahmckayart: Semp...

Tertiarymatt

TARDIGRADE



sweetteascience:

urbpan:

wheremyfeetfall:

sarahmckayart:

Semper minimum ursi #waterbear #tardigrade

LOL

Need this on a tshirt

Absolutely motivational.  Also, where is this t-shirt?

24 Jul 02:09

Some bands I am considering going and seeing. Levels and Year of the Cobra seem most interesting, I...

Tertiarymatt

So, went to this last night. A quick Doom Hippie Review:

Skunk Rider opened. They were okay. Missed the initial part of their set, but while they weren't bad players and kept good time, didn't fuck up, etc, they had no real groove. And the guitar player had some rather Tufnelesque moments of wheedling.

Levels was next, and they went hard, and were remarkably danceable for a lightly mathy band. This was apparently the last show for their current drummer. I dug their set a lot.

Year of the Cobra played next. This is a two piece bass & drums band that I think are a married couple. I had already spoken to Amy before the show. They were also pretty solid, though Amy had severe gear issues (eventually revealed to be her pedalboard power supply cutting out) that kept interrupting their songs. She took it with extremely good grace, and ended up trying not to laugh while singing about wizards. They seem to be really nice people, and remind me a bit of Rosalind (if she were slightly taller, played bass, and didn't sing as well), and Capt. Bunker (if he were a skinny straight-edge looking drummer).

Last up were Lords of Beacon House, which are an interesting power trio from LA. The guitar player came up in a battle jacket, while the bass player and vocalist would be best described as "Rock n' Roll Sex Jesus, circa 1968". And their drummer looked like Simon Pegg crossed with Kirk Hammett' hair (and who also never looked at the crowd). They were heavier live than their record, and quite good. If a little disappointed with turn out and the low-key nature of a Seattle crowd.

Some bands I am considering going and seeing.

Levels and Year of the Cobra seem most interesting, I think.

24 Jul 00:59

Things that are true, but not much fun: one in an infinite series

Tertiarymatt

I'm kind of having a shitty week, in some respects.

There is a very accomplished, awesome, activist scientist on OkCupid (and OKC claims we are mad compatible) that I have messaged. I am very confident that we even know at least one person in common. 

I am also very confident she is never going to message me back. 

This is an idea I have to get comfortable with, even though it is really depressing. 

24 Jul 01:08

becausebirds: A perfect duet. This young individual is very...

Tertiarymatt

click for vid



becausebirds:

A perfect duet.

This young individual is very entertaining.

23 Jul 18:12

How I overwintered ten out of ten

Tertiarymatt

Rusty on over-wintering her bees.

I have been thinking about this post for about a month, but I didn’t dare write it until spring was here for sure. But on Thursday, when a fur-coated bumble bee alighted on the patio and a bee fly examined my shoe lace, I knew I could call it.

To be more specific, I went into September with nine Langstroths, one top-bar, and three nucs. Today, with April just a breath away, I still have nine Langstroths, one top-bar, and two nucs. Not only are my colonies still alive, they are bursting at the seams. Bees are pouring through the entrances and climbing up the walls. I am elated.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that “overwintering” is my main honey bee interest. I usually manage to overwinter 60-80 percent of my hives. But this year I decided to “pull out all the stops.” I tried everything I could think of to help the bees make it through the winter.

The result, of course, is no controlled experiment or repeatable design. In fact, there are so many variables it would strain the organizational capacity of Excel. So all I can do is tell you what I did and why.

Before reviewing my steps, I’ll give you a quick overview of my local climate. In one of my very first posts on this blog I wrote that “all the challenges are local” and I still believe that. Beekeeping is not performed in a vacuum, and your local climate plays an immense role in the life of your bees.

I live in western Washington in the middle of the Puget trough. The word “trough” reminds me of water, and that pretty much sums it up. It rains nearly constantly in the nine-month period from September through June. It doesn’t add up to a lot—annual averages are about 51 inches—but it rains a little bit all the time. The three-month period of July, August, and September is hot and dry, dry, dry. No rain. Zilch. Nada. Everything is crisp.

Although I live at 47°N latitude, I am in USDA hardiness zone 8, which means it doesn’t get very cold in the winter. It dips down in the teens and twenties, but doesn’t stay very long. We get snow in the lowlands, but only two or three times per year. The average winter day is 40°F and raining.

So here are the steps I took to overwinter my bees, beginning in June 2010.

• By June 30, all honey supers were off my hives.

Comment: I live adjacent to a 91,650-acre state forest and the only farm crop in the immediate area is hay. So my bees forage almost exclusively on spring-flowering trees and roadside weeds. By the time the hot dry months arrive, there is almost no forage to be had. Whatever honey I get accumulates from April until June.

• During June I collected enough swarm cells to begin four nucs.

Comment: I wanted to carry one or two extra queens into the winter in case one of my colonies went queenless. So I started four nucs with swarm cells. Three of these produced viable queens. By fall I had three healthy nucs “just in case” something went wrong with one of my colonies.

• In August I treated for mites.

Comment: First off, I never use any conventional pesticides in my hives. However, if mites are a problem I use one of the all-natural products made from thymol (an essential oil of thyme) or formic acid (an organic acid.) Unlike conventional pesticides, these are difficult and time-consuming to use.

This year I used ApiLife Var (a thymol product) which requires multiple applications over the course of three weeks. Honey supers cannot be in place. But it is the timing of treatments that is important for overwintering.

The thymol and formic acid treatments should be used when little brood is present—so later is better. But you want to treat summer bees for mites, not winter bees*—so earlier is better. You have to make a judgment call. In this case, I set aside August for mite assault.

*In case I lost you here, summer bees live an average of 4-6 weeks. Winter bees can live many months—all the way into the following spring. If you treat for mites after the winter bees are born, it is too late to protect them from viruses carried by mites. In other words, a late mite treatment will still kill the mites, but only after the viruses have been transmitted to the winter bees. This way, you have gained very little. You need to kill mites in the summer bees so the hive is relatively free of viruses when the winter bees are born.

• In September, I checked the hives for honey stores. Any hives that appeared to be short on honey were given some extra frames reserved from the harvest in June, or given sugar syrup mixed with Honey-B-Healthy, or both.

• Entrances were reduced on all hives to protect them from robbing and yellow jackets.

• All Varroa drawers were removed from the screened bottoms to provide maximum ventilation.

• The slatted racks remained in place in the Langstroth hives all winter long.

Comment: I consider slatted racks basic equipment in Langstroth-style hives, so I never remove them in any season. In summer they provide a place to hang out during hot muggy days, and the queen tends to lay eggs further down on the brood frames–apparently because this area is no longer near the “front door.”

In a traditional winter hive with the Varroa drawer in place, the slatted rack adds an insulating layer of air between the brood nest and the Varroa drawer. This will not exist in the same way with the Varroa drawers pulled out. However, during cold snaps (see “weather forecasts” below) –or other times when the Varroa drawers are in place–the slatted racks again provide a “dead air” space that helps to keep the bees a few degrees warmer.

• Each hive was topped with a quilt box outfitted with four ventilation holes and filled with wood chips.

Comment: Of all the changes I made, this one had the most visible result. In prior years I always had condensation dripping down on the bees from the inner cover. This year none of that moisture reached the bees. They were dry and happy all winter long.

Originally I had anticipated having to change the wood chips every couple of weeks. As it turned out I never changed the wood chips. The ventilation holes seemed to play a big part in preventing the chips from getting soggy. About one-inch of the two-inches of wood chips got wet in each hive.

In my opinion, the combination of more ventilation and less moisture accumulation were the two most-important changes I made to the hives.

• As always, I checked my hives every day or two. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular except for fallen trees or bear damage. Usually I just walked by each hive and flicked the dead bees off the landing board.

• It was on one of these routine checks that luck played a big part in this year’s success. On December 15, just as I was about to flick a dead bee off of hive #2, I realized it was the queen. Darn! I knocked on the hive and it was loud and robust. I examined the queen: she looked freshly dead. So I put one of my nucs in a deep brood box and, using a slit piece of newspaper, combined it with hive #2.

Comment: I still haven’t opened this hive except to add feed. But when I get near it I can hear it roar like a caged lion. Luck definitely played a role here, but pre-planning gave me the queen I needed to keep the colony alive.

• I paid attention to the weather forecasts all winter long. Three times the temperatures dropped into the twenties for an extended period (more than a day or two). In each of these three cases, I inserted the Varroa drawers under nine of the hives and put both the nucs and the top-bar hive in the garden shed.

Comment: My husband convinced me the hives would stay a lot warmer with the bottom drawers in, so in very cold weather I gave them a little help. This compromises ventilation, however, so as soon as the temperatures got back into the 30s, I removed the drawers again.

The nucs were small, so I put them in the shed which is about ten degrees warmer than the outside. The rest of the time they were outside, stacked with double-screen boards between each.

I coddled the top-bar hive because it was a July swarm that moved in by itself, and it couldn’t possibly have had a lot of stores. So, when the nucs went inside, the top-bar hive went in as well. But it, too, came out as soon as the temperature climbed above freezing.

• Right around the end of December, I added a feeder rim to each hive. I placed it just above the top brood box, but underneath the quilt box. I added sugar patties to each hive during January and February.

• In mid-February I began adding pollen substitute to the sugar patties. I continued feeding pollen-enriched patties until now.

Now that it is spring and my hives are boiling over with bees, I’m already worried about swarming. Wouldn’t you know it? If you succeed at one thing, you’ve got to worry about something else.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

23 Jul 03:09

How Fair Housing Will Turn Liberal Cities Conservative

Tertiarymatt

History suggests that wealthy white people are not going to share their space.

Thomas B. Edsall posed an indecent question in a Wednesday column in The New York Times.

“Can Republicans turn the Supreme Court and [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] decisions and the renewed drive to integrate residential housing into a wedge issue to weaken Democratic allegiance?”

No, that’s not the question. That question is practically rhetorical. By the time that HUD released its final rule on the Fair Housing Act—a 377-page tome on homes titled Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing—the spittle was already flying fast and furious. National Review’s Stanley Kurtz wrote that the new ruling “gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood.”

There’s no doubt that Republicans want to work the Supreme Court’s decision on disparate impact. Rather, the indecent question Edsall asks is whether fair housing will make Stanley Kurtzes out of liberals. Now that white communities are required to make room for poor and minority households, will white liberals in those communities continue to vote with the Democratic Party?

Even ruder: Will the prospect of black neighbors turn liberals into conservatives?

The conservative policies that will win over liberal white homeowners won’t mention race or class directly. But they will restrict the density that makes sense for affordable housing.

Of course, it isn’t a rude question at all. It’s a real-keeping question. The history of the U.S. details how white homeowners have used every tool at their disposal to enforce racial segregation—explicitly and implicitly, legally and illegally—in nearly every American neighborhood. Edsall’s perceptive question is simply in tune with the history of housing.  

Edsall points to Westchester County in New York for evidence that Republicans can pick up seats in white liberal jurisdictions by exploiting fear and hate. (The same fear and hate that Kurtz demonstrates in his piece—which is perceptive, too, in its own way.) There in predominantly Democratic-voting Westchester County, a Republican, Robert Astorino, won the seat for county executive, in 2009 and then again 2013. He won by the largest margins in the dozens of white communities where his Democratic predecessor had approved the construction of some 750 units of affordable housing.

For now, all Edsall can say for certain is that the new rulings from HUD and SCOTUS may mean even larger margins for Astorino the next time around. But Edsall is onto something so much larger. Affirmative rulings on fair housing may prompt a new era of There Goes the Neighborhood–ism. And thanks to broad shifts in demographics, fair housing could affect the pH balance of major metro areas over the long term.

What follows are some sketches to show how justice in housing could erode the Democratic advantage in cities, a prospect that should give pause to partisans on both sides.

Cities are growing richer—and that wealth isn’t trickling down

“Across the 50 largest cities, households in the 95th percentile of income earned 11.6 times as much as households at the 20th percentile,” reads a Brookings Institution report on cities and inequality from March. Their report finds a larger inequality gap in cities than in the nation overall.

In 12 of the 50 largest cities, the rich (households in the 95th percentile for income) grew a great deal richer between 2012 and 2013. In 11 of those 50 cities, poorer households (20th percentile) made big gains over the same stretch. But there was very little overlap: Only in Jacksonville, Florida, and Houston, Texas, did both rich and poor households make gains. And in most cities (31 of 50), lower-income households were worse off in 2013 than they were in 2007.

(Brookings Institution)

Rents are rising, but you knew that already. Soaring rents plus soaring incomes at the top in growing cities means a larger and larger disparity gap for affordable housing to bridge. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, we’re talking about building low-income housing in affluent neighborhoods that are growing richer and richer.

The culture wars are over(ish)

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges didn’t declare a formal end to hostilities between liberals and conservatives on social issues. But with the argument over same-sex marriage off the table for good—an issue that galvanized liberals and one that more than a few conservatives have hoped to shelve for years—there’s that much less daylight between Democrats and Republicans on culture.

Of course there are other issues that will continue to divide left and right. Transgender rights, for example. But as LGBTQ advocates fear, success in the effort to secure same-sex marriage rights may lead many allies and activists to declare victory and go home. Elsewhere, the sweeping surrender on Confederate symbols suggests that the next culture wars will look different than today’s.

This is all to say that, while immigration or religious freedom or #TeamTaylor vs #TeamKaty will continue to divide people, the configurations of these skirmishes and their salience in down-ticket elections could change.

Liberal in the streets, NIMBY in the sheets

If Republicans can counter the narrative that they hate gay people, black people, poor people, women people, migrant people, etc., then they may find a way in with liberal white homeowners who vocally support tolerance—but very much do not want to live near black people or poor people.

This is a tough sell, today: Donald Trump is winning the GOP field right now on an anti-Mexican platform. Presumably, however, that won’t always be the case. Liberals may never trust Republicans when it comes to elections for the person who appoints seats on the Supreme Court. When it comes to zoning and housing decisions, though, liberal white homeowners may find themselves less allergic to the Republican Party going forward.

The struggle has shifted to zoning, where owners have the edge

Take a look at Astorino’s state of the county address from Westchester County back in 2013. “Let me say this loud and clear: There is absolutely no place for discrimination in our county,” he says. “The biggest and really the only issue going forward is zoning.”

He adds: “Washington bureaucrats, who you will never see or meet, want the power to determine who will live where and how each neighborhood will look. What’s at stake is the fundamental right of our cities, towns, and villages to plan and zone for themselves.”

Two years later, Astorino 2015 state of the county address echoes many of the same themes. It details the county’s ongoing struggle with HUD about enforcing the original 2009 fair-housing settlement—the one that required the affordable housing to be built in the first place:

From the day I took office, I made it very clear that my administration would fulfill the county’s obligations under the settlement. Like it or not, the law is the law. The rule of law is what binds us together as Americans.

But I also made it clear I would not allow unelected bureaucrats at HUD to create new obligations for the county that were never agreed upon in the settlement.  

Throughout, Astorino speaks of his commitment to affordable housing. He notes with pride the county’s diversity. He delivers part of his address in Spanish. And year after year, he pledges to protect the county’s exclusionary zoning against federal efforts to expand affordable housing.

NIMBYism is never about race, except when it is

It’s hard enough to build new market-rate housing in the cities that need housing most. In Washington, D.C., the zoning commission just decreased the maximum height on “pop-up” additions and construction in the parts of the city growing most rapidly. Homeowners in D.C. say that they want to protect the character of their neighborhood and the quality of construction during this boom time.

Even at the most granular level, NIMBYism can take the form of an entitled localism that sounds positive. A hyperlocal petition started by a condo-owner to keep a 7-Eleven out of a nearby storefront is a crypto-case of There Goes the Neighborhood–ism.

The arguments and policies that will win over liberal white homeowners will not mention race or class directly (the way they surfaced in McKinney, Texas). But the policies will have the effect of restricting the density that makes sense for affordable housing or the amenities favored by low-income populations.

In The Wall Street Journal, Jason L. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, writes that HUD is compelling communities such as Westchester County to “construct cheap housing units in wealthy, predominantly white neighborhoods and then actively recruit poor minorities to move in.”

Expect white homeowners to zero in on the “cheap housing” aspect of this question. In the new There Goes the Neighborhood–ism, the focus will be on homeowners’ zoning rights—meaning policies that keep housing elite and expensive.

#Not all liberal white homeowners

First of all, there won’t be as many white homeowners in the future, in a manner of speaking. The Urban Institute developed a nifty interactive mapping tool that shows population projections between now and 2030 across 740 U.S. commuting zones. Even assuming only modest population growth, the white share of the population will fall everywhere as the nation grows more and more diverse.

From left: Population change for white, black, and Hispanic communities, 2010–2030. Dark blue indicates growth of up to 40 percent, while dark red indicates decline of up to 40 percent. See the interactive tool for greater detail. (Urban Institute)

Second, at least a few municipalities are bound to recognize that homeowners do not have their city’s best interests at heart by radically restricting zoning.

Seattle, for example, is rolling out a dramatic and progressive new housing policy in a bid to promote justice in housing. The panel tasked with coming up with the policy acknowledged up front that single-family zoning is the product of race- and class-oriented discrimination. That panel—and now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray—recommends changing all of the Seattle residential area zoned for single-family housing to low-density zoning that will accommodate more and more affordable housing.

Seattle’s next mayoral election in 2017 ought to be a test of what liberal white homeowners there think of justice in housing—not just statutorily legal integration, but really breaking down barriers to diverse, affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods.

“At the local level, the Obama administration drove Westchester into the arms of the Republicans,” writes Kurtz. “The same thing could happen nationally, at every political level.”

Of course Kurtz neglects to mention that white supremacy is inflecting these gains, but no matter. He’s right. Fair housing is coming, slowly but certainly. Racism isn’t going away so soon.

20 Jul 15:23

A song for anyone with attractive friends

by Andrea Romano
Tertiarymatt

Pretty much the case. via A.Kach.

Musician_hot_friends
Feed-twFeed-fb

Having hot friends can be a real drag.

YouTube musician Nikola in the Pond has a ton of attractive friends and while she loves all of them, it can be a little difficult relating to their lives. Luckily she has a healthy sense of self-deprecating humor to get through the day.

Also, there's wine.

More about Youtube, Viral Videos, Videos, Musician, and Funny
20 Jul 22:04

A Unique Elliptical Pool Table and ‘Loop’ Game Designed by a Mathematician

by Glen Tickle
Tertiarymatt

This looks like great fun, actually. It'd be really interesting to build tables of different eccentricities. Via. A. Kach.

In a recent episode of Numberphile, mathematician Alex Bellos demonstrates his custom-built elliptical pool table. The table can be used to demonstrate some interesting mathematical properties. In particular, it can be used to demonstrate elliptical focus points. When the ball is shot from the complementary focus point from the hole it should always go in, regardless of the direction of the shot.

Because a traditional game of pool would be impossible to play on the table, Bellos also invented a game called “loop” which uses the table and four balls to make the most out of the table’s unique properties.

Bellos explains additional details of the table itself and the game of loop in separate Numberphile videos.

loop table 2

loop table 1

photos via Loop

22 Jul 02:31

Maybe some time you could talk about Susan and what it would be like if she didn't desert Narnia

Tertiarymatt

This is so amazing.

How about we talk about what might have happened if Narnia hadn’t deserted Susan?

What if, instead of sending a stag to lead them astray, the Pevensies had been given time to end their first rule– to have finished their reports, their negotiations and treaties, that letter in the bureau Lucy was half-done penning to Mrs. Beaver to thank her for the fruitcake and to ask about her grandchildren. 

They had lived there more than a decade then, grown from children to kings and queens, to brave young adults with responsibility heavy on their shoulders. They had lived through storms and wars, peace and joy, lost friends to battle and old age and distance. They had made a home. What if they had been given time to say good-bye? 

What if we didn’t tell Susan she had to go grow up in her own world and then shame and punish her for doing just that? She was told to walk away and she went. She did not try to stay a child all her life, wishing for something she had been told she couldn’t have again. 

There is nothing wrong with Lucy loving Narnia all her life, refusing an adulthood she didn’t want for a braver, brighter one she built herself. But there is also nothing wrong with Susan trying to find something new to fall in love with, something that might love her back. 

You can build things in lipsticks and nylons, if you don’t mind getting a few runs in them. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be pretty, especially when pretty is the only power left to you. 

Let’s talk about being the last one left. No, really, think about it. You get a call in the middle of the night, in the little flat you can just barely afford, and you are told there has been an accident. 

Think about it, that moment– you scramble over everyone you know, everyone you love, and try to figure out where they all are that night. There are things rushing in your gut, your fingertips, your lungs, your ears– there are words in your ears as the tinny, sympathetic voice starts to tell you: it is everyone. 

They were on a train. Something went wrong. They probably died instantly. A rushing sound. A bright light. (You try to imagine it, for years. You try not to think about it. You imagine it, for years–a rushing sound, a bright light.)

Your little sister, who you always felt the most responsible for, who you never understood, really– Your big brother, who disapproved of your choices but loved you with a steadiness you could never regret leaning into– Your little brother, a smug and arrogant ass except for the days when he drowned in self doubt– Ed was going to go far and you knew it, were waiting for it, were shoring up your defenses and your eye rolls for the days when he’d think he ruled the world–

Your mother is gone. Your father, with his stuffy cigar smell and big hands and the way he got distracted telling stories– he is gone. Your cousin Eustace, who suddenly lost that stick in his ass one summer. That friend of his, Jill, who you’d never actually quite met. Gone. A rushing sound. A bright light. 

Go on. Walk through this with me. You can’t sleep all night long, because you still can’t understand it, still can’t quite breathe in a world where you are the last Pevensie. You finally fade sometime between midnight and dawn and when you wake up you don’t remember for half a second. You think ugh and you think sunshine why and then you remember that you are an orphan, an only child. You remember there probably isn’t anyone else to handle the funeral arrangements. 

Get up. Make tea. Forget to eat breakfast and feel nauseous and empty all day. Call the people who need to be called. Your work, to ask for the time off. The mortuary, to ask about closed caskets. Distant relations. Friends. Edmund’s girlfriend and Peter’s boss. You listen to Lucy’s friends weep hysterics into the phone while you stare out the kitchen window and drink your fourth cup of tea. You call Professor Diggory, out at the old house with the wardrobe that started it all, and it rings and rings. You don’t find out for three days that he died in the train crash too. When you do, you stare at the newspaper article. You think of course

You are twenty one years old. You have ruled a kingdom, fought and won and prevented wars, survived exile and school and your first day as a working woman. Nothing has ever felt worse than this. You have a necklace in your dresser you meant to give your mother, because she loves rubies and this glass is painted a nice ruby red and it is all you can afford on your tiny wages. 

Excuse me, a correction: she loved rubies. She is dead. You never wear the necklace. You cry yourself to sleep for weeks. The first night you don’t cry, the first morning you wake up rested, you feel guilty. You wonder if that will live in the pit of your stomach all your life and you don’t know. The years reach out in front of you, miles and eons of loss. You are on the very shore of this grief and you do not know how you will survive feeling like this for the rest of your life. But you will survive it. 

Get up. Make tea. Make yourself eat breakfast. Make plans with a school friend to do lunch. Go to work and try to bury yourself in the busyness of it. Remember that you’d promised to lend Peter a hand with some task or other, but you don’t even remember what it was– Collapse. Hide in the bathroom until you’re breathing again. Redo your makeup and leave work the moment your shift is over. Drop your nylons and your sweater and your heels in the apartment hallway. Fall into bed and pull the covers over your head. 

Get up. Make tea. Eat. Don’t think about them for weeks. Don’t feel guilty when you remember. Feel proud. Spend an indulgent weekend in your pajamas, reading Lucy’s favorite novel and making Ed’s favorite cookies and remembering the way your mother smelled and how it always made you feel safe. Love them and miss them and mourn them. Keep breathing. Cry, but wash your face after in cool water. Wake in the morning to birdsong and spend three hours making breakfast just the way you like it. 

Imagine the next birthday, the next Christmas, the next time you hit one of those days that herald the passage of time, that tell you how much you’ve grown and how much they haven’t. 

Lucy, Peter, and Edmund will be at the same height for the rest of your life. Lucy will always be seventeen for the second time. You see, you think you know, when you lose them, what the dagger in you feels like. But it grows with you, that ache. You grow with it, too, learn how to live with that at your side but it grows, that ache, finds new ways to twist– 

At the first friend’s wedding you go to, you cry because it’s lovely, those two smiling and promising and holding hands– but you also cry because you wonder what Lucy would have looked like in white, joyous and smiling and promising the rest of her life to a boy who deserved her. 

Go on. You tell me if Susan deserted a world or if a whole life deserted her. You tell me who was left behind. 

So yes, let’s talk about it– what if Narnia hadn’t deserted Susan? What if lipstick and nylons were things worn and not markers of worth? 

What if we had a story that told little girls they could grow up to be anything they wanted– all of Lucy’s glory and light, Susan’s pretty face and parties, the way Jill could move so quiet and quick through the trees? 

Because you know, some of those little girls? They were the little mothers, too old for their age, who worried and wondered, who couldn’t believe like Lucy or charge like Jill. Susan was reasonable, was hesitant and beautiful and gentle, was pretty and silly and growing up, and for it she was lost. She was left. And when Susan was left, so were they. 

The little girls who worried louder than they loved, who were nervous about climbing trees and who would never run after the mirage of a lion, who looked at the pretty women in the grocery store and wondered if they would grow up pretty too– some of them looked at their little clever doubting hands, after they read Peter and Eustace and Jill scoffing at Susan’s vanities, and they wondered what they were worth. 

Imagine a Narnia that believed in all of them. Imagine a Narnia that believed in adult women, lipsticked or not. Imagine Susan teaching Jill how to string a bow, arms straining. Imagine her brushing blush on Lucy’s cheeks, the first time Lu went out walking with a boy she was considering falling in love with. Imagine that when the last door to Narnia was shut, there was not a sister left behind. 

23 Jul 00:21

El-P + Killer Mike = Run The Jewels

Tertiarymatt

Click thru to listen to the first remix/re-edit off of Meow the Jewels.

21 Jul 19:34

Tabla Trap by Jomy George

my new project "TABLA TRAP" I dedicate this to my DAD am only here because of him. hope u guys like this , some of u been asking for a solo, here it is my ki...
14 Jul 15:52

July Update

by Bob Crowley
Tertiarymatt

I didn't realize so many SEM machines were laying around.

Note: This identical text may appear in the Kickstarter update section as well, but may not contain links or images. We had the pleasure of a visit by Steve Herchen of The Impossible Project, and a great lunch at Stone's Public House which is highly recommended. TIP, and Inoviscoat, are a partly combined entity and are interested in doing synergistic work that could lead to OEM arrangements, which we will consider as we move along.  We'd like to hear your opinion on us working more closely with TIP going forward.

In general, progress has been steady and a number of important milestones have been met. These include:

The Sleeve Machine is operating and produces usable assemblies. The system still needs to be calibrated, mounted on a rigid base, and the feed system needs to be built. One problem is the motor control which is too coarse so we will have to replace the servo with a stepper. Another problem are the tape guides which are too wide and need to be redesigned. None of these problems require discovery.

The Receiver Sheet design has progressed considerably but is not near completion.  A new reduced-step formula has been experimented with by Ted McLelland and Jake Kellett, and a number of test impressions have yielded fair Dmax and image formation, with some evidence of color control. We discovered that the neutralization scheme used by Polaroid to stabilize their receiver sheet is not very aggressive. We also saw using scanning electron microscopy the original receiver sheet which has lower porosity than imagined from the literature.  This is a puzzle.  An intensive discovery experiment plan will remain underway for this important component. The versatility of silver and its many forms astounds us!   I like the Ag2S the best, personally.

The Secondary Operation Tools - ten or so of them - are being designed and the next one is the cutoff tool followed by the corner notcher. We need to invent a method of heat bonding or using another adhesive step for the sleeve formation, and this is ahead of us for August, in all likelihood.

Test Samples of paper bases from an important vendor have arrived in small quantities. This is just the first step in what looks like a circuitous chain of events including laminating, rerolling, converting, coating, and further converting, in at least three location widely separated by geography.  Still, it all seems possible.

Our first film supplier agreement was finalized by Sam and there is now a production, shipping and payment schedule in place which will - if all goes right - result in about a third of our first production order arriving at our dock in August. The hot weather at that time makes us worry about heat damage so some heat sensors will travel along with the first shipment.  Sam will be visiting this vendor along with our importer/agent to assure that there is a proper understanding and commitment in place as we progress to production quantities.

The infamous clip tooling has finally been ordered. There was a lot of back and forth on this deceptively complex part regarding dimensions and tolerances, surface finish, base material, and edge radii. The clip is still about 7 weeks out due to a delay in the tooling order, but that is now in place and the vendor appears to be getting to it this week.

The air conditioning in the upstairs lab now works well, which means we can operate in the safer environment with a good fume hood and not melt.   I can't imagine what the electric bill will be like this Summer.

I am also still running after acquiring our own scanning electron microscope. There are dozens of these surplus for under 10K, so one would think we could get one in here and operating for 25K or less.  It is not clear we can, but I am still trying.

In general, much progress has been made but there are many things yet to be done, and some discovery in the form of coatings technology that still will require attention, possibly up to product release - and perhaps beyond.






21 Jul 07:51

MYRKUR - Onde Børn (Official Music Video)

Tertiarymatt

There's a few moments in here where part of my brain expected to hear some real shrieking. Can't decide if I'm disappointed or not.

The official music video for ""Onde Børn"" by Myrkur. Purchase at Relapse: http://bit.ly/Myrkur Purchase on iTunes: http://radi.al/MyrkurM Purchase at Bandca...
25 Aug 08:56

worldofthecutestcuties: I took my cat on his first walk...

Tertiarymatt

I have occasionally been on the end of the leash.



worldofthecutestcuties:

I took my cat on his first walk yesterday

My first girlfriend used to take her cat for a walk, and this is what would happen every time. She’d just be left there, holding a leash up a tree. Contending with smartarses driving past yelling ‘just talking your tree for a walk eh?’. I found it endlessly amusing, but was not game enough to laugh.