Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's a dog's life

Today is men-at-work day on the Daily Photo blog sites (such as London Daily Photo and Paris Daily Photo). Inspired by Ham's work in London, I offer a small contribution: the Horse Guards Under Stress. These poor guys have a job to do, and they have to do it with a straight face even as they're being undermined by swarms of motivated tourists. This poor guy is working on Christmas day. Or was it Boxing Day? It was a long flight and I'm rather confused on the point. It's a cold, rainy holiday night, and he's got to keep that stiff upper lip. I think they had even retired the horses for the night. Wouldn't want to send a horse out on a knight like this, eh?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Charles!

Today, 12 Feb 2007, is the 198th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. I struggled to find a photo of mine that might do him honor, but no joy. I did find a nice (spliced) photo of the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct built in France, and I hope that Charles would appreciate how we humans have advanced from rock-stackers (wonderful and talented but still stackers of rocks) to elegant carvers of rock - etchers of silicon, to be exact. I find this change of scales to be an interesting metaphor of our evolution.

Two thousand years ago, it was a major achievement to build an enormous aqueduct that could channel water across miles and miles to provide a city with an essential of life and to power the fountains that would enchant their hearts. Today we can channel electrons across little cities of transistors, creating anything from pacemakers that maintain life itself or create games that fritter it away. I know two people undergoing cancer treatment now, and it is amazing they can be treated - it wasn't that long ago that cancer would have been untreatable, and now we talk about survival in years or decades. This all relates back to Darwin because it is his simple little theories that help explain how we developed to the point where we can even affect the climate of an entire planet. Let's hope we have also developed to the point where we can reverse the effects of our earlier simplicity.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Armchair travel

I own a domain (actually a couple) - pretty easy to do these days, at about $10 each per year. I have configured the domains such that any received email not sent to a legitimate user gets forwarded to me as the domain owner. I get some mail that needs to be forwarded, usually due to name confusion. In the last month or so, there seems to be a new virus out in the world, because I am getting a huge number of "delivery failure" messages. The message I see is usually a "reply" to a supposed sender message informing me that the message cannot be delivered because of the contents (virus), but occasionally because the destination address is defunct or full. The supposed sender is some bogus user within my domain - not only a fictitious user, but often something completely bizarre (e.g., "fl8noj12" or "bz8ankladfy" - not even a phat name from some haxxor). My guess is that a virus is out there, sending mail using my domain to create a seemingly legitimate email address and hoping to capture someone who opens the mail.

The messages come from all sorts of interesting domains - .ru, .jp, .kr, and so on. Had I been clever, I would have put up a map with pins in it.

Spam - It Brings the World Together(TM).

Whole lot of shakin' going' on?

The news is reporting that we are to have an earthquake this coming week. The Globe and Mail headline says "B.C. put on alert for huge quake"; as British Columbia is but a few short miles north of here and we can see Vancouver Island on a clear day (from the right vantage point), I think we'll be in on the party should one arrive.

Update: Hey, look what happened 307 years ago, on 26 Jan 1700: an earthquake... of magnitude 9.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Road Not Taken

We were snowshoeing in the area of Stevens Pass, WA. One of the fun bits of snowshoe hikes is that there's no trail. Rather, one can follow a trail or one can make a trail. We did some of both. In this case, we were making our own trail. The area in the photo is a little over an hour from Seattle on US Route 2 and around 4000 feet in altitude. It was a great day for a snowshoe hike - the weather wasn't too sunny (well, it was overcast, but not oppressively so), and the temperatures were in the upper 20's (Fahrenheit). There was a fresh layer of snow over a deep encrusted base. At the lunch stop, some of the guys dug a hole in the snow to see if it was suitable for building igloos. They went down about four feet, and the snow was fine. It was fun walking among the trees in the snow and it was very quiet. About all one could hear was my heavy breathing as I labored to keep up with the group...