Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nothing to Grouse About

You'd think that when my mountain ash, which has been suffering at the hands (beaks?) of woodpeckers and bugs for the last ten years, is attacked by a marauding grouse, I would be upset.

Right?

Well, not when he looks so innocent:


Don't let this handsome fellow fool you, though.  He's on a mission, and it's serious.

It's a raid!

The last thing this tree needs is to have those juicy, tasty leaf buds taken in the middle of Winter:


When I confronted him about it, this grouse didn't have much to say.  He's excellent under pressure, well trained by whatever spy agency sent him into our country.  He just sat there, challenging me with his cold, hard stare until I had to back down.


Makes me appreciate how trivial my daily struggle with certain complex software systems really is, in the big picture.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Old-Fashioned Prognostication

No, I'm not making predictions for the success of Eclipse or any technology in 2009.

Another new year has arrived, and to usher it in I once again engaged in the timeless German tradition of Bleigie├čen:  the divination of one's future (for the coming year) in the pouring of molten lead.

The idea is simple:  you cut a length of lead solder and heat it, in a steel spoon, over a candle or other tabletop flame, thus:



Once the lead is completely molten and flows freely, you pour it quickly into a bowl of cold water to chill it instantly.  In the resulting sculpture, you see a shape, figure, or other graphic indication of what the year holds in store for you (rather like cloud gazing):




As you can see, my first attempt didn't show much and was actually spoilt by pouring too rapidly.  Am I having puppies?  Or are these tears?  As this attempt failed due to a bad pour, I tried again, with a smoother and steadier hand:




That's more like it.  I can read something into this!  I see ... on the right-hand side ... a frog? Yeah, a frog.  It's sitting on a stick, readying to jump into the water.  The stick is jutting out of the water from right to left, like in so many creek-paddle scenes from my canoe tripping.

Looks like Mother Nature has another great canoeing season in store for me!

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