Creek Jots 2010-12-09

July 2000 lunar eclipse chart of moon's total ...
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â–¶ Rotten in Denmark, I’m not so concerned with. But the thing that died in our walls is a problem. And now that we’ve put our heads together–or more to the the point, our noses–we remembered smelling something “dead” a few years back. It turned out that rust had made a tiny hole in a gas pipe under the house. So I’ll be calling Clark Gas to come with their sniffer.

â–¶ We may have set a new record for low night time temps. It was 3 between here and Christiansburg, and we’re always a few degrees colder than that. Our fancy indoor-outdoor weather station stopped showing outdoor temps last night, but I feel sure we’re at or below zero. So Fox News is right. Global warming is over. Right?

â–¶ I did get my mom a wifi iPad at Best Buy a few days ago. She’s set up to use AT&T at 3MB from her Alabama apartment. I’m doing my best to think about how to teach her to use the gmail account I set up for her, and to bookmark some interesting web pages. She’ll get a week of one-on-one the week she’s here for Christmas. Got any suggestions for apps or web sites?

â–¶ I see the issues around Wikileaks being the pin prick in the balloon, especially combined with the increasingly powerful cyber-weapons like Stuxnet growing in the wild. If the credit basis of our consumer economy can be held hostage by hackers who disagree with the gagging of those who point out the emperor is both naked and ugly, and the gaggers can in turn muzzle the complainers with their own hakers, we have a growing and vicious techno-political divide and even greater problems in knowing the TRUTH. It’s about to get really nasty around here. We’re paying a high price for the death of journalistic reporting when we really, really need it.

â–¶ On the other hand, things are LOOKING UP! The massive Geminid meteor shower returns every year, so you’ll have more chances if the cold proves too daunting on the night of Dec. 13. But anyone in North America who skips the total lunar eclipse on the night of Dec. 20 will be missing what promises to be the best lunar eclipse show until April 2014.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I suggest showing your mom how to use Wikipedia and And of course your favorite, Google Earth. Set up a Yahoo home page for her with her favorite news sources and news topics. Of course it goes without saying, I hope she will get a lot of pleasure out of it. I bought a WebTV for my mom 10 years ago, but she was advancing into Alzhemer’s without my realizing it, and she couldn’t retain even the simplest instructions.

  2. You might teach her how to use the Safari browser if she isn’t used to it. For iPad apps, definitely Google Earth. Also, if she likes to read, get the Kindle app (you can download some free ebooks), the iBook app, and the Nook app (some libraries offer ebooks via Nook). The ABC player will let her watch some archived ABC TV shows. Maybe NPR and NPR news. The Weather Channel or one of the other weather apps. Possibly one of the dictionaries or Bibles. A Jumbo Calculator is nice, too. If she wants to keep up with the news, there’s USA Today, Fluent News (which pulls news from a variety of sources) and Editor’s Choice (which pulls from the NYT). Maybe some games?

  3. I do recall a Grampa moment. I was sitting in Gramma’s house when my cousin Joyce came bouncing in with doll in hand and said “Carl, wanna see John (my Grampa) dress a chicken!?” Joyce and I were both newly turned four year olds and I could only imagine how fun it would be to see one of Grampa’s chickens all dressed up. Joyce spent a lot of time growing up on the farm and always seemed to know about the neat things going on there. I was excited about joining her on her latest adventure and I still remember the mental image I conjured up – a Sunday suit on a white chicken. Joyce and I went running out of the house and to the barn. I remember going into the barn and turning the corner into the stall. There was Grampa John. In his lap laid a limp, half naked chicken and a fist full of feathers was being flung from his hand. I did not have the words to describe what I felt, nor do I even today, but I immediately turned and left. My memory of the farm beyond that point is largely blank. I think what happened next is that later that day I was scratched by a tom cat that Joyce gave me to hold. I still bear those faint scars on my stomach. Hmmm… As I sit here I now wonder these 45+ years later if this string of events was part of a sadistic rite of passage to farmdom concocted by my dear cousin Joyce…

  4. Oh the horror! Dressing was REALLY the most awful UNDRESSING! Good thing Grampa wasn’t singe-ing the feathers off or you’d have had the olfactory memories that go deepest of all!