The Disappearing Spoon

My review of  THE DISAPPEARING SPOON: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Wow, that’s a long title!) By Sam Kean is up at the Internet Review of Books.I really had fun with this review. Check it out at this link: Internet Review of Books

Most of us remember the periodic table from our high school or college science class. It was that castle-like chart with all the numbers and odd letters our instructors allowed us to access during exams; the one Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon, reminds us was “less than frickin’ helpful” even if we could look at it.

Migrant Woes~

It can be done

I was unhappy with Blogger for many reasons. I suppose it started last winter when my blog was hacked and my comments area became a dumping ground for spammers. The help forum was less than its name would imply, and it was virtually impossible to speak with anyone. I contemplated moving for several months. Last week I  took the plunge.

The process is twofold, depending on what you want to do. And first of all you need to know that there are two versions of WordPress:

WordPress.ORG — which requires a web host, like Bluehost —which I am using, OR
Wordpress.COM —where you can either get a free blog, or they will host a domain name you already own for $17 a year. Pretty cheap.

I opted for the hosted variety. All was going well. I found it relatively easy to export my old blog at Blogger to WordPress, but then I noticed none of my old links to the Blogger posts (there are over one hundred) forwarded to the current blog at WordPress. These things are called permalinks. The things you learn about these days. My mother asked recently, when I was visiting and tweaking her Mac for her, How did you learn all this stuff?  One thing about living at the end of the road: the chances of finding anyone who knows what they are talking about is nil, so you quickly learn to be your own techie. I have picked most of it up either by hard-knock Google searches or David Pogue. I have WordPress for Dummies, but most of the information in that book is online.

So, what to do about my permalinks? I combed the Internet and found all manner of advice, some good, some really bad.  Then I had another issue that sidelined me. The RSS feed quit working. All the advice I found on that issue seemed to go in circles. I finally decided to trash the current installation of WordPress and reload it. Yup. That fixed the feed problem.

And, after reloading the new Web site template I decided to go after the ultimate solution for the imported posts. Searching the Internet for a solution is a bit like searching the library stacks for reference books; it’s all in the question asked. Once I understood the concept of permalinks, I googled and got  The Ultimate Guide to Migrating from Blogger to WordPress. Yes, people, it is there.

A big thank you to  Zain at Tipso Tricks. I was done in a matter of minutes and googled several old posts of mine from the Blogger days, and they now (hopefully still) forward to the new blog perfectly.

Those migrating to the WordPress.com site are on your own. I’m being kept busy with the dot org side of things.

I’m sure there will be other issues cropping up in my new home away from Blogger, but I’m pretty happy here… for now.

Madman or Genius?~

Happy Solstice to all you pagans out there who bow to the gods of lower case letters, and to my parents who married on this longest night of the year many, many years ago.

It is humid and sticky here in Punta Uva, something my friends in the northern climes might find a welcome right about now. I see it is white white white in the northeastern United States. And England, too.


I haven’t been in a snowstorm for years now, and, to tell the truth, I miss them a bit. I don’t miss my toes reminding me of when I frost bit them in my early teens, though—running away from home about Christmas time with my older sister. 

As I recall, we were fed up with a particular guest our mother asked us to be nice to, so in the snow we saddled our horses and rode off to Camp Sherman, a journey of several miles. I suppose we thought we would find refuge at our cousin’s house, but it was not to be. Our mother found us just before the turn off to their road–– we still had a mile or two to ride––and sent us home with a tongue lashing that should have warmed us straight through. It was still snowing hard and all told we were in the saddle for about three or four hours before we reached home. I failed to wear any socks when we launched ourselves into the storm, and leather cowboy boots, I can vouch, are not an insulated and cozy choice for winter weather. 

By the time we got home I had no feeling in my left toes, they were blanched white as the snow we rode through. The right ones were not much better. I soaked them in warm water and can remember the searing pain as blood began to reenter the flesh. Ever since, any time I’m in the cold, my toes remind me of my selfishness, all because we did not wish to be polite to someone who had no choice about being at our house that night. She probably wished she was somewhere else, too; certainly not with two feral sisters who had no time for her. 

So again this year I am in a tropical climate for Christmas. Perhaps with global warming the northern climes will be more like it is here in years to come.

I see they couldn’t come to much of an agreement in Copenhagen about the fever the world is running. But, I can’t say I blame India or China for not listening to the United States or Britain on the subject. Why should they have to curb their emissions before they have achieved the same economic success we have? I see their point. And really, we aren’t going to be able to police other countries without some fairly ugly consequences. What do we do, for instance, if some country refuses to quit emitting CO2? Go to war? Also, we can’t ask everyone to cut back. Cutting back for developed countries might be one thing but asking poor countries to cut back might lead to the death of a large segment of their society.

So what to do?

I watched Nathan Myhrvold the other day on TV. This is a man who graduated with a PhD by the age of 23, then made billions, I think, as Microsoft’s technical brain, and now… now he owns something called Intellectual Ventures (IV). He runs the company out of an old Harley Davidson shop in Seattle WA. Essentially, he says, his company provides capital for inventors. Of the thousands of patents the company owns, one is his solution to global warming. As he said in the interview, even if we cut emissions to zero this year (and we have yet to cut any emissions, even by one percent) it would not solve the CO2 problem because the stuff hangs around like my sister and my unwanted guest that Christmas long ago. And, the problem is one that humans don’t deal well with: It involves global cooperation, sacrifice of the many, and the rewards are diffuse with no direct link to money.

So,Myhrvold, studying nature and thinking this over, has discovered that very cold conditions were created historically when one or another volcano erupted sending a cloud of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, blocking out the sun from its normal warming pattern for a year or two. His idea––and don’t scoff at this (it can’t be any crazier than the Large Hadron Collider)––is to create an eighteen-mile long hose, hoist it skyward, and spray sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. He plans is to do this at the North and South Poles thus creating a stop gap measure so we can grapple with the issue over time.

One of the reasons he is set on the poles for the project is because, obviously, they need to be kept colder, but the other is that there is already tons of sulfur dioxide heaped in slag piles, left there by Big Oil.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what he intended to hang the hose from up there—Satellite? Space station?––so I did a bit of searching. An article in the Times Online explains it fairly well. He doesn’t hang the hose so much as float it up there using helium balloons and small pump stations along the route to lift the sulfur dioxide. Genius. Or, madman. We’ll either have a solution or we’ll have a sulfur dioxide CO2 cocktail that will bring us to the end of our run here on earth. She seems about ready to be done with us, anyway.  

So, perhaps in the future we will have Solstice nights that are a little bit longer and a little bit chillier.

When it snows in Punta Uva I will write to Mr. Nathan Myhrvold and ask him to turn off the hose please.

Waiting at CIMA

Out past the big hospital,
the monolith with its reflective glass facade and gun turret windows
we waited for you in the car
until I caught a glimpse of something
Across the herringbone pavers styrofoam para llavar boxes
wedged themselves against the curb
We walked to the end of the parking lot
where empty paint buckets and plastic straws nuzzled rock gabions.
But over the edge we found wild grasses
pink and soft as thistle down 
they snickered in the wind
laughing at man’s need to fill the world with concrete
We explored this 
tiny, wild world
until you 

Reviewing Quoz

Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey by William Least Heat-Moon

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the coastal community where I live, a sign at the entrance of a small hotel reads: A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival. It sums up the difference between travelers and tourists, and perhaps quantifies the spirit with which one ought to pick up… Roads To Quoz: An American Mosey.

This is not a book for the impatient….

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