Schrödinger’s Cat in Space!

Conduct your own experiment with Schrödinger’s Cat in space! Go to APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) and press the button to see if the astronaut is holding a picture of a live cat or a dead one. You have to go to APOD; it won’t work here. Are you determining the course of the universe, or splitting it into another set of infinite branches? What do you think? I know which interpretation I favor, but pick your own. (No one knows which is right! Who says science has already answered all the great questions?)

Oh, and Happy April 1st!

 

Cat Dances on Keyboard, Author Gets Last Word

The perp. Goes by the moniker Moonlight.

I’m sure every writer has either had this happen, or had nightmares of it happening: You finish up a nice bit of work and walk away from the computer. Do you think about the havoc your cat can wreak on your work? No, you do not. And when you return, hours later, having forgotten all about it, you find gibberish on the screen in place of your finely turned prose.

Yeah, it just happened to me. Look at Moonlight. Doesn’t she look innocent and cuddly? Well, cuddly she is, but innocent she is not. No, this kitty tried to rewrite my chapter for me. Bad kitty! Seriously, she’s a terrible writer. Here’s a sample: [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[… What kind of writing is that?

Yes, of course I had saved my work. (How stupid do you think I am? No, on second thought…) I saved, and furthermore, it was backed up automatically to Dropbox. What I failed to do, though, was to close Scrivener before I walked away. Scrivener auto-saves anything you write. So your cat dances on your keyboard (or parks her fuzzy butt on it for warmth), and Scrivener obligingly saves all her new work for you. And the new work gets saved to Dropbox!

That’s what I found when I came back to my laptop, hours later.

What to do? Dropbox’s “deleted versions” to the rescue! I went online to my Dropbox account and looked for the mostly recently changed file in my Scrivener folder. (That took a little while, owing to the spaghettified file structure of my book, but never mind that.) Scrivener saves each chapter as a little rtf file, and sure enough, the last-saved file was time-stamped half an hour after I left the house! Caught you, you little scalawag!

Dropbox saves a number of older versions. It’s not even remotely obvious how to find them, but I eventually discovered if you click on the file you want, then click the little icon with three dots at the top, it offers to show you the version history. And there’s where you find your pre-cat-dancing version, and restore it to its rightful place.

Hah! Show you, you little furball!

Dumb Animals? How about this Birdbrain Dancer?

Have you ever tried to teach a dog to dance? In rhythm? I’ve tried with all of our dogs. Never mind their grace in running, jumping, and snatching food from the air. Dogs are hopeless when it comes to rhythm. But watch this cockatoo, who could put many an inebriated undergraduate to shame. Now and then he even breaks into double-time. And catch his aplomb in response to the applause at the end.

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Injured by Cow Bite? Or Sucked into a Jet Engine?

posted in: quirky | 0
6-jet-engine
Animation by James Provost, in Science News

What do these two misfortunes have to do with each other, besides being unusual ways to get hurt? They’re among the latest additions to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision. In other words, they’re the descriptions of new diagnostic codes for physicians. Since, I guess, they’d be hard to fit into the old codes.

According to Science News, here are some of the odder new codes:

  • V91.35: Hit or struck by falling object due to accident to canoe or kayak
  • V95.40: Unspecified spacecraft accident injuring occupant
  • V97.33: Sucked into jet engine
  • W55.21: Bitten by a cow
  • V91.07: Burn due to water skis on fire

Possibly Science News is making these up—and there are more—but I am not. Where is Dave Barry when you need him?

Organic Farming? Or Alien Produce?

Here at the Star Rigger Ranch, we believe strongly in organic farming, especially if someone else is doing the work. In that spirit, Allysen signed us up for a weekly allotment of organic produce through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Every week she brings home twice as much produce as we can eat, which encourages us to give. And some of that produce is some kind of weird.

In keeping with the Thanksgiving Feast theme of today, I present to you:

Alien carrot
The alien carrot (organic)
Alien chard face grabber_sm
The face-sucking alien chard (organic)
Braaaains_sm
Bra-a-a-i-i-ns (organic celeriac)
Alien fractal cauliflower_sm
Alien fractal cauliflower (organic)
Veggies
And some regular veggies (organic), just to keep us off balance.
But we know what they’re up to.
Enjoy your meal!

Gorilla Watching Cat Video

I can’t figure out how to embed this (short) video, so I’ll just have to give you the link, at TheAtlantic.com:

The commenter noted that the girl seemed to be ignoring the magnificent creature beside her. I actually found it rather sweet that she was sharing a video in such an unstudied way—just one friend to another.

Commas Rule, This July Fourth!

Do commas matter? According to an Ohio Court of Appeals, they do.

As we U.S. Americans celebrate the birth of our democracy today, it’s fitting to celebrate recent court victories on behalf of the common man (and woman)—and common sense. I’m not talking about the Supreme Court ruling in support of same-sex marriage equality, though I celebrate that, as well. I’m talking about the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals ruling which overturned a West Jefferson, Ohio woman’s ticket-and-tow citation when she left her pickup truck parked on the street overnight.

The reason her truck was towed? A village ordinance makes it illegal to park “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours.

The woman argued that her truck was not a “motor vehicle camper,” and should not have been towed. The trial court ruled that the ordinance meant to say, “motor vehicle, camper, trailer, etc.” and that the missing comma was just a typo.

No way, said the Court of Appeals. If your meaning requires a comma, you need to put the comma in. We’re not responsible for your careless writing. Yay! Let’s hear it for clear writing, I say!

You can read the whole story in the Washington Post, which seems to have rereported it from the Columbus Dispatch.

Now, if I could just collect a fine every time I caught the Boston Globe mangling grammar, spelling, or punctuation (as opposed to “grammar spelling, or punctuation”). It would probably cover the cost of my subscription.

A special tip of the hat today to copy editors everywhere!

 

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