Wednesday, February 22, 2017

There Are Monsters, And Then There Are Monsters

Blake Smith gets serious...


This week, in a brief essay, Blake Smith, host with Karen Stollznow of Monster Talk - The Science Program About Monsters departs from his usual format.


Smith speaks cogently and concisely on the importance of critical thinking - skepticism - in our current political climate, which is marked by a surreal foray into alternative facts and blithe accusations of fake news.


I've enjoy Monster Talk for many years now, but I've never been more proud to be a fan of its thoughtful co-host.


Give this brief but excellent talk a listen.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Refinishing An Oak Table Top

The punchline "So far so good" comes to mind...



Original finish represents some 25 years of battering and bruising, scratches and scuffs, topped off with some recent water damage...


Citristrip applied (the orange stuff containing no MEK)




Stripper scraped off and residue removed with mineral spirits.




Mineral spirits dried.




Sanded with 120 and then 220 grit 




Minwax penetrating stain Golden Oak 210B applied and left to soak in




Stain rubbed back




First coat of Minwax Helmsman spar urethane clear satin.




Next, the sanding between coats.




And the second coat.




Then let it dry.




Put the extension back in the loft and my dining room table is back in service...




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spare Time Plus Peregrine Books

Equals unplanned purchases...


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, is for Cassandra, but don't her; it's a surprise.

Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks

Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, by Eric M. Meyers and Mark A. Chancey

Lucy M. Lewis: American Indian Potter, by Susan Harnly Peterson


What Do I Do On Sunday Mornings?

Unless I'm working, reading, or exploring that is...


First things first. A pot of dark roast is prepared. Then...

Frequent readers of my blog will know I have hundreds of books on my "to read" shelf, which is both an actual bookcase as well as a long virtual list.

I actively participate in two on-line forums. One is about rifles and is called Scoutrifle.org. The other is the comments section (actually a Discus forum) below the UK radio show and podcast Unbelievable.

I strive not to spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook, which I find
 much easier without the apps on my phone.  Still, I frequently fail. Those "likes" are addictive...

When I'm out and about on my own, especially driving, I try to keep up with about a dozen podcasts:

  • Astronomy Cast - Frasier Cane and Dr. Pamela L. Gay take us on a weekly "a fact-based journey through the cosmos"
  • The Deconstructionists - John Williamson and Adam Narloch wrestle with their religious belief
  • Escape Pod - Science Fiction short stories
  • Ideas from CBC Radio - Paul Kennedy hosts a thoughtful examination of "social issues, culture and the arts, geopolitics, history, biography, science and technology, and the humanities."
  • Monstertalk - Monsters and the paranormal in popular media
  • On Being - Krista Tippett “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence."
  • On The Media - Meta-analyis of home the media covers the news
  • Point of Inquiry - Science, religion, and politics
  • Quackcast - Mark Crisp, MD, on Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or as he calls it, SCAMs.
  • Rationally Speaking - Exploring "the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience."
  • Reasonable Faith - William Lane Craig discusses his view of evangelical Christianity
  • Skeptoid - "Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena"
  • Spark My Muse - "Fuel for the human journey" by Lisa Delay
  • Unbelievable - Debate between Christians and non-Christians
  • You Are Not So Smart - The impact of human cognition on critical thinking

Friday, February 10, 2017

What Is There To Do In Northern Arizona?

Asked an old friend planning a vacation...

Discard your preconceptions of saguaros, cattle skulls, and scalding sun.

I love Prescott year round, where there are any number of hikes and bike paths in and around town. There's a mess of shopsmuseums, galleries, and restaurants here too.

As you enter the third youngest state in the republic from the north Monument Valley is awesome - culturally and geologically, as is Canyon De Chelly along the eastern border.

South of Canyon de Chelly is The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest. West of there on the way to Flagstaff via Interstate 40 is Meteor Crater.

In Flagstaff Lowell Observatory is worth seeing and there are a mess of restaurants to try.

If you haven't been to The Grand Canyon that's easy to fix (and should be). There some fine accommodations there but you'll need to book stays in the park well in advance.


Some will be intrigued by Gunsite Academy in Paulden.

As my posts on FB and my blog suggest, we've been looking into the archaeological pre-history of the Four Corners region.  There's a loop of sites in the Verde Valley we've seen most of called The Sinaugua Trail.  There is also Agua Fria, Black MesaTonto, and others...

Between Verde Valley and Prescott is the former ghost town of Jerome and a winding scenic drive through the Mingus Mountains.

As for points south... Even though it's crazy hot in the summer, a visit to Tucson should include at least a half day at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  Haven't gotten down to Tombstone yet, but folks say its worth a visit.

Best of all, if you stay long enough you will meet fine friends...