Sinister trees

davidleaves.jpg

My street is now full of gigantic piles of leaves. We don’t have a tree, but everyone else in our neighborhood does and all of the leaves seemed to have dropped at once. But it turns out that leaves don’t so much fall off as they are pushed.

If trees kept their leaves permanently they wouldn’t have to grow new ones, but leaves are not the brightest of bulbs (sorry!). Every so often, when the winter weather has a break and the days turn warm, Raven says leaves will start photosynthesizing. “They get some water up and they start operating and making food and then it freezes again.”

When the cold snap’s back on, the leaves will be caught with water in their veins, freeze and die. So instead of a food staff that’s resting, the tree is stuck with a food staff that’s dead. And when spring comes, the permanent help will be no help. The tree will die.

That’s why every fall, deciduous trees in many parts of North America get rid of their leaves and grow new ones in the spring. It’s safer that way.

Meanwhile, there’s still a little time to view the great local colors.

Not as easy as it looks

Today’s NYT “The Upper Middle Class is Great” article focuses on the value of working in college or some such idea which doesn’t make sense to most of the people in the world. And, like most such articles, it fundamentally misunderstands its central point. The author’s son is working as a nude art model, a job which the author continually implies is easy, “a job where you get paid a lot and don’t do much work.”

Not exactly. I bet the author’s never taken a life-drawing class before. Being a nude model is pretty difficult. You have to know how to pose your body in may different ways and then hold those poses for a long time. The Boing Boing commenters have got it right:

[M]odeling for life drawing is HARD. Just try to stay completely still for ten minutes straight (or half an hour). No fidgeting, no scratching, no twitching or changing position. Now do that while standing or sitting in an interesting pose. If you do take a break during a long pose, you have to get back in exactly the same position. I can’t do it myself.

Back in my art school days, good models really helped us learn new techniques, while bad models made creating art a lot more difficult. It’s not a matter of having a traditionally great body or face -those aren’t necessary – but being interesting to look at and able to maintain an artist’s interest throughout a class or drawing session. If you can do that, you’ve got skills, and pretty marketable ones at that.

PSA – welcome new area code, goodbye 7 digit dialing

Hey Chicagoans. Let’s all welcome the new area code – 872. But that means that from now on, all numbers are 11 digits. ” Residents will no longer be able to dial seven digits to reach a local number inside their same area code,” says the Trib. Aw, man. Now I have to push some extra buttons.

What are computers good for?

Apparently, not math.

(Repost from yesterday. Where did my content go?)

Did you do something different?

I had a free half-hour to play around with my blog so I updated the theme a bit. I think I like it. But I may change my mind tomorrow. Meanwhile, have a new link: Cell size and scale – from a coffee bean down to a carbon atom.

I know sushi is awesome and all…

But the amount I’d spend for a good sushi dinner? There’s a limit. And it’s far below this.

Ok, I admit, that sushi looks really good…. maybe someday, when have a few hundred to spend on raw fish and rice.

Eggs-citing article on how to boil eggs

We’ve all heard about different ways to boil eggs – starting in cold water, starting in hot, add vinegar, use a lid, don’t use a lid, etc. This guy has his own ideas about how to make “Perfect Boiled Eggs,” but his advice is based on experimental data and science. So I tried it. Seemed to work out pretty well, actually.

Great news for comics?

I still buy comics, but I’m way behind in my reading. I spent part of my maternity leave trying to catch up, but only partially succeeded. I got through my Marvels and most of my DCs, but there are plenty of independents I need to read. The problem? Comics are too physical. Do I have all of the issues? Where did I put them? Did I finish the last issue, or am I just half-way through? And who spilled apple juice on the cover? And forget going to the comic book store – no time. I have them delivered.

That said, I read a lot of books before I went back to work — all on my Kindle for iPhone. The screen was easy to read, I could always tell where I left off, and I could read whatever I wanted with one hand. I didn’t have to worry about where I’d left the book or whether my bookmark had fallen out. Why can’t reading comics be as simple?

It’s starting to look like maybe it will be. I’ve been hearing rumors of an Apple tablet for years, but this latest round seems pretty credible. It looks very likely like we’ll see this tablet in the next year or so. Coincidentally, LongBox is a company which is developing an iTunes-like store for comics (great concept; lousy website so far). Depending on how this works out, this could be a partnership made in comic geek heaven. No more storing comics in big boxes. No more accidentally missing an issue or buying the same comic twice. No more worrying about random toddler incidents.

So, Apple, hurry up with that tablet already.

(Stick) Boom De Yada

XKCD Loves the Discovery Channel (now with video goodness).

I love the Discovery Channel, too. Where else can I see brides agonizing over dresses which cost more than my car, people far taller than I can even imagine, and women who somehow miss morning sickness, a shrinking bladder, a blooming appetite, and internal kicking only to find themselves waking up one morning on the wrong side of labor?

Time and other Relative Desserts in Space

From Derspatchel – a TARDIS cake. Not only is it gorgeous, it’s bigger on the inside. Deliciously awesome.