Creek Jots ~ 2014 January 24

image by wordle from words in this blog post
image by wordle from words in this blog post

They are frozen jots, amigos, two below and falling as I type at 430a (update: -4 at 730a) and blowing like a banshee up top. I am wearing everything I can find, including two afghans and a hat. (update -5 at 830a and I just risked my life for two cold hens and ain’t no egg worth that.)

â–¶  How Cold Is It? You can walk across a frozen Lake Superior for the first time since 2009–Instagram images here. If you’d like something a little more photo-realistic than Instagram retro-fades, check out this series on Flickr taken with a Nokia Lumia. More about the camera…

â–¶ I’ve been holding this one back, waiting for the right moment to deposit it at Fragments. I feel the urge. Here it is: Dogs poop along magnetic lines.

I’ve watched our resident pooper and can confirm this tendency. Ours pees south and poops north. I’m not making this up. Do watch your own pups poop and let us know. Plastic bags; pooper scooper; and compass. Now go make science.

Dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, study finds | PBS NewsHour

The big question is WHY? What possible benefit or selection advantage could such a behavior confer on those that follow this hardwired directive? (We country guys, of course, have always known and practice the rule in this regard with reference to wind direction. Never into.)

â–¶ Prepare to waste hours: Google Ngram Viewer. It is one aspect of that “big data” future we are entering. This one is actually quite intriguing and educational–even if it is yet another way Google is analyzing our past (through language, in this case, and books) with an eye towards our brave new future.

This new tool is discussed in a new book: Uncharted : big data as a lens on human culture. In it the authors describe (according to the summary) how “millions of users worldwide–are beginning to see answers to a dizzying array of once intractable questions. How quickly does technology spread? Do we talk less about God today? …

“All over the world, new scopes are popping up, using big data to quantify the human experience at the grandest scales possible. Yet dangers lurk in this ocean of 1s and 0s–threats to privacy and the specter of ubiquitous government surveillance. Aiden and Michel take readers on a voyage through these uncharted waters.”

â–¶ And speaking of Google: I am reading an ebook on big data. One of the diagrams there shows the GooglePlex as an elephant-headed octopus. It remembers everything and has its tentacles into everything. At the end of each tentacle is one of G’s enterprises like Picasa, Google Voice, etc. One I’d never heard of was Google Tap. Did the authors realize this was an April Fools joke–a morse code instant messenger?

Share this with your friends!

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.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Cold here too, Fred, and VERY cold. The wood stove and fireplace are stoked, and gallons of tea are being made and quaffed, along with the occasional dram of Jack.

  2. Cold and wet here on the Bayou, Fred! Sleet has steadily been falling since 5AM with snow flurries mixed in for good measure! Weatherman is calling for a couple of inches of snow by morning which is quite the rare sight this far south. Wood stove is going nonstop with a big pot of soup on the top burner and a few sweet potatoes in the dutch oven. Let it snow! I am in for the duration!

  3. I checked out the Ngram viewer, and tried a few trios of words, but didn’t come up with anything too interesting. The speed at which the graphs came up was stunning!