Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Short Takes

One of the main reasons I follow The Economist, despite being perpetually way behind on it, is that their science column is full of the most delightful little articles. In the "the world is stranger than you can imagine" category: it turns out that there is a type of deep-sea sponge called the Venus flower basket, which has an exoskeleton made of fairly high-quality optical fiber. Not only does this exoskeleton transmit light well, but it is stronger than man-made fiber and forms (somehow) at conventional temperatures, which has significant advantages over the high-temperature methods we use today. No one is entirely certain why it has this -- there is speculation about the sponge harboring and enhancing bioluminescent animals, and using them to attract food, but for now it's a mystery.

Now really -- if you put an animal like that into a science fiction story, people would say that it was a preposterously convenient deus ex machina. It's a very interesting experiment to occasionally step back, look at the world around us, and realize just how strange it really is...

Just saw an ad for Mad Mad House, the Sci-Fi channel's new "reality" series (we have the Quantum Leap marathon on as the background music for the day). High concept is amusingly stupid: take a bunch of the weirdest people imaginable, put them all together in the same house, and then make a bunch of "normal" people live with them. With every passing show, the term "reality" has less and less to do with them, though.

msmemory just pointed out an article in the paper about a commemoration of Prince Hall Masonry, the black offshoot that is just now beginning to remerge with "regular" masonry, after a more or less racist split that persisted for a couple of hundred years. Apparently, the first meeting of African Lodge #1, the first Prince Hall lodge, was on July 3rd, 1776. There's a rich opportunity for metaphor in that...

I am now the proud possessor of a new storage unit. For a number of years, we've been storing a great deal of stuff in a 10x20 over at Storage Depot (which has just changed hands to Extra Storage), but we've never been entirely happy with them -- it's a slightly scungy old warehouse, divided with plywood and chicken wire, with inconvenient hours, high prices and mediocre management. The unit is nearly full, which tells you just how much crap we have. Now, Public Storage has opened a bespoke building about the same distance away from home: better prices, better units, better hours -- precisely how Extra Storage plans to compete, I'm not sure, since they say they're not going to lower their prices.

Anyway, for now we're renting a new 5x10 at Public Storage for my comic books -- if I store them 5 high, it ought to be large enough, and it'll open up some space in the big unit. And if that works out well, we'll probably figure out how to move the piano across town and move the whole kit and kaboodle to Public Storage.

Someday we will get The House, and have enough space to unpack all this stuff properly...

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