Calming Signals – The Art of Survival – Turid Rugaas – International Dog Trainer

June 27th, 2015

A glossary of signals dogs use to calm each other down. Very interesting.

For species who live in packs it´s important to be able to communicate with its own kind. Both in order to cooperate when they hunt, to bring up their offspring, and perhaps most importantly: to live in peace with each other. Conflicts are dangerous – they cause physical injuries and a weakened pack, which is something that no pack can afford – it will cause them to og extinct.

Dogs live in a world of sensory input: visual, olfactory, auditory perceptions. They easily perceive tiny details – a quick signal, a slight change in another´s behavior, the expression in our eyes. Pack animals are so perceptive to signals that a horse can be trained to follow the contraction in our pupils and a dog can be trained to answer your whispering voice. There´s no need to shout commands, to make the tone of our voice deep and angry – what Karen Pryor refers to as swatting flies with a shovel.

Source: Calming Signals – The Art of Survival – Turid Rugaas – International Dog Trainer

Why mosquitoes bite some people and not others — and the surprising non-toxic way to avoid bites

June 26th, 2015

Here’s an insightful read on what attracts (and repels) mosquitoes. Science for the win!

Why are some people so much more attractive to mosquitoes than others? And what can you do about the pesky little bloodsuckers, especially if you don’t want to resort to DEET? (DEET, while effective, is also weakly neurotoxic in humans.)

To start, there are some 150 different species of mosquitoes in the United States, and they differ in biting persistence, habits, ability to transmit disease, and even flying ability.

Source: Why mosquitoes bite some people and not others — and the surprising non-toxic way to avoid bites

Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

June 26th, 2015

Love won today, as the Supreme Court ruled marriage is marriage for everybody. I’m thrilled for my LGBT friends (and everyone, frankly) who are no longer denied the fundamental right to love whom they choose.

It reminded me of this article from the Onion a few years back, which pretty much sums up my thoughts about the whole matter.

WASHINGTON—Ten minutes into oral arguments over whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another, a visibly confounded Supreme Court stopped legal proceedings Tuesday and ruled that gay marriage was “perfectly fine” and that the court could “care less who marries whom.”

Source: Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

What makes your eyes red in the pool? It’s not the chlorine –

June 26th, 2015


“When we go swimming and we complain that our eyes are red, it’s because swimmers have peed in the water,” says Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s healthy swimming program. “The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what’s known as chloramine and it’s actually chloramine that causes the red eyes. It’s not the chlorine itself. It’s chlorine mixed with poop and sweat and a lot of other things we bring into the water with us.”

Source: What makes your eyes red in the pool? It’s not the chlorine –

Motorcycles and HOV lanes

June 25th, 2015

While waiting for traffic to move on I-95 in Springfield, VA this week, I wondered why motorcycles are allowed in the HOV lane? This makes no sense to me.

  • Motorcycles are not high occupancy vehicles, instead they almost always carry a single person.
  • Motorcycles are not good for the environment. While they may burn less fuel, they generate far more pollution.
  • Motorcycles do not take up less space on the road than cars.

So, what exactly do governments gain by giving motorcyclists a free pass to the HOV lane? Whatever it is, I’m not seeing it.

Update: According to this page on the website, federal law allows motorcycles in HOV lanes:

Motorcycles are permitted by federal law to use HOV lanes, even with only one passenger. The rationale behind allowing motorcycles to use HOV lanes is that it is safer to keep two-wheeled vehicles moving than to have them travel in start-and-stop traffic conditions. States can choose to override this provision of federal law, if they determine that safety is at risk.

I don’t think this is reason enough, since it’s better for the safety of everyone to avoid start-and-stop traffic, but that’s just me.

Drones not yet cleared for takeoff

June 24th, 2015

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or "drone"

An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or “drone”

After having had such fun with the Structure Sensor I borrowed through the N.C. State Libraries Technology Lending program, I suggested that they consider lending quadcopters like the DJI Phantom 3. Drones like the Phantom 3 are so cutting-edge that they are far ahead of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, so much so that many common-sense uses of drones (or as the FAA calls them, “unmanned aircraft systems” or UAS) are currently banned outright.

Like other university libraries, N.C. State Libraries would love to lend out drones but the present legal limbo with the FAA prevents that from happening. You see, what many people don’t realize is that the FAA is in charge of the nation’s airspace from the ground up. Not just 500 feet and above but starting at the ground. Public property, private property, it doesn’t matter. If you fly anything, anywhere, the FAA makes the rules.
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Scanning 3D objects with the Structure sensor

June 24th, 2015

This is a 3D rendering of me

This is a 3D rendering of me

As an employee of a company located on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, I have access to the tech lending program of the N.C. State libraries. One of the more interesting devices I found there two weeks ago was a 3D scanner kit consisting of an iPad Air and an Occipital Structure 3D Sensor device. Not knowing much about it I thought I would take it home for a week and see what it could do.

The sensor integrates with the iPad by using the iPad’s built-in camera in conjunction with the Structure sensor. The sensor paints the scene in front of it with infrared grid points. The sensor then detects how this grid is bent by the object in the field and, together with the iPad’s sensitive accelerometers, computes the dimensions of the object. All of this happens in seconds and it’s quite amazing to watch!
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The Confederate monument has no place on the State House grounds

June 24th, 2015

The N&O’s Josh Shaffer wrote yesterday about keeping the Confederate monument on the state house grounds. I’ve mentioned before how garish I think the monument is so I disagree with Shaffer.

Perhaps we should retire the towering, out of place Confederate monument from the state house grounds to a place of honor in the Confederate portion of Oakwood Cemetery. Perched prominently on the state house grounds, it stands as a giant middle finger aimed towards equality.

North Carolina was a reluctant successionist, even then a Vale of Humility between Two Mountains of Conceit. This helped persuade Sherman from burning Raleigh to the ground. In light of our state’s lukewarm support for the Confederacy one has to wonder what the monument really celebrates.

It’s rare that I agree with conservative N&O columnist J. Peder Zane but even he has called for the monument to be removed. Because the N&O’s website has never figured out how to preserve historical links to its content, I am reposting his column here (as seen on
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William Rivers Pitt | Don’t Believe the Hype: Candidate Clinton’s Sudden Populism

June 17th, 2015

William Rivers Pitt of Truthout compares the donor lists of Hillary Clinton and her would-be Republican challengers and finds little difference.

For reasons some may argue are not entirely fair, the Post article about those preposterous people helped crystallize a few things as I encompassed the rhetoric contained in Secretary Clinton’s big campaign speech this past weekend. Despite her long history of association with these kinds of people, Mrs. Clinton on Saturday deployed the sort of populist bombast that one might have heard at an Occupy Wall Street rally not so long ago.


Interesting, that … especially the stuff about hedge fund managers and CEOs and billionaires and fair compensation. Heady stuff; she sounded for all the world like Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders.

Yet a peek at her donor list is revealing. The roll-call of Mrs. Clinton’s top twenty campaign donors is topped by Citibank, and includes Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse Group … basically, a cohort of the worst people in the United States, the ones who gamed the system by buying politicians like her and then proceeded to burn the economy down to dust and ash while making a financial killing in the process.

Source: William Rivers Pitt | Don’t Believe the Hype: Candidate Clinton’s Sudden Populism

Public education

June 17th, 2015

Little_Greenbrier_School.-1936I have a confession to make. At one point, fifteen years ago, I was on the verge of being a Libertarian. Up until then I was a left-leaning independent raised in a Republican household. My friend and roommate Scott sang the virtues of libertarianism and some of it appealed to me. I like the idea of personal responsibility and wasn’t too fond of the massive growth of government. The idea of Al Gore as President didn’t wow me and I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look George W. Bush showed during a debate when the question of foreign intervention was raised.

So I voted for the Libertarian Harry Brown. Ever since, I’ve blamed my miscast vote for the subsequent Presidency of George W. Bush, Iraq, and the current drift of America. But that’s a post for another day.

But back in my pre-kid days, libertarianism sounded intriguing. Why shouldn’t everyone do things for themselves? AFter all, I was successful. If I could do it anyone could do it, right?

Then slowly I began to consider the enormous advantages I’d had growing up, with a loving family, a decent education, a safe home, and little want for anything. I realized that not everyone shares the same advantages. No one ever really makes it on his own. Not in this world, anyway. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
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