There’s nothing like starting your day with a meteor siting. This earlier this week was the zenith of the Orionids meteor shower, but you can see them (although less meteors per hour) all week.

Up until K and I moved to our place in the hills last year, and thus eliminated a massive amount of light pollution, I hadn’t paid that much attention to meteors. I was amazed to learn that they occur on the same day every year, which means even a fool like me can keep track of them.

The great/crappy thing about this time of year — the time right before we change the clocks — is that the sun doesn’t come up until some crazy time like 7:45. This means that when K and I are eating breakfast, it’s still night. It sucks because it’s frickin’ hard to get up in the dark. But it’s cool because we can eat breakfast under the stars. Well, I guess lots of folks in this country can’t do that because it’s too cold, but October is usually the hottest month in the Bay Area. So, this morning, K looked up and saw a meteor during breakfast. How cool is that? I had to do a little work see mine yesterday — like stand around for five minutes getting an awful crick in my neck. But it was worth it.

By the way, the guy who made the meteor shower site got to work with NASA. I guess they don’t hate him.

K & I have been discussing how absolutely distracted every one seems to be these days. Between all the gadgetry, it seems like no one is really in the same room anymore. They’re on the phone, or have their earbuds in, or whatever. I notice while commuting on the bus or in the casual carpool, no one ever just looks out the window. I find this notable, because the scenery most mornings is gorgeous. People from all over the world come to the SF Bay Area just to see this very scenery, yet locals would rather read the paper, text message, check their voice mail, fuss with their iPod. (And god knows, they don’t want to talk to each other. Ew.)

I’ve said it before, but I’m obviously out of sync with the modern world. And worse, I judge everybody else. I feel they are addicted to distraction. I used to make fun of the phrase “Be here now” as just another annoying new-age neologism, but lately I’ve had a tourette-link urge to bark it at people.

So, I decided to return to science and nerdiness, which always calm me down. (Okay, not always). While walking up Folsom Street in SF’s SOMA district, I counted how many pedestrians were speaking on a cell phone or listening to music. I observed fifty people, of which eleven were engaged in distractions. Why, that’s only 22%. Hardly a vast majority. In fact, not even *close* to a majority at all. Most people walking down the street are actually just walking down the street. Isn’t that a nice thought?

I’ve written before about how great my car is, but I have a need to gloat some more. Recently, the EPA released a new site,, where you can compare the fuel economy of different cars. The thumbnail here links to a screenshot of the comparison of my 1993 Geo against 2009 Hybrids. Lo and behold, fueleconomy.jpg, a car I bought ten years ago for $3,000 has virtually the same mileage, carbon footprint (a term I despise, but anyway), and whatnot as a $26,000 car. Plus, any fool can see how much cuter my car is. I rest my case.

Gloat, gloat, gloat!

The title of this post is based on a Le Tigre song, which these adorable children have made a video for. My favorite line in this song is “I hate Guiliani/ he’s such a fucking jerk:”:

Here’s a picture of our three-walled sukkah — it must have at least 2 1/2! — one of which is a “fabric wall” (a.k.a. “curtain”). Well, it looks kosher to me. I’ve always wanted a sukkah, and now that I finally have my very own backyard, here it is. I think it rules.

A little dream has come true. We recently purchased a most lovely specimen of Acer Palmatum. I used to know a very nice cat named Acer… in any case, we love our tree very much. Here’s a portrait of it (her?).
an acer who is not a cat

And more…

K’s grandma (and my adopted grandma) is in the hospital for pneumonia. Although she’s had pneumonia maybe dozens of times throughout her life, but her being 90 or 91 (she’s not sure) makes it riskier than ever. And that would be hard enough, but her being in the hospital makes it ten times worse. In my estimation, people get better despite being in hospitals, not because of it.

During the last decade or so, every time grandma goes into the hospital, she becomes delirious. When we visited her on Wednesday she was lucid and we mistakenly thought she would remain in this state. But when we arrived in her room last night, she was tied to her bed with a diaper on. Her gown was barely covering her.

What kind of world is it where they tie old folks down like this? She has no idea where she is — she’s full-on hallucinating — so she keeps trying to leave, and they are afraid she’ll fall down. I agree that is a serious concern, but you mean to tell me that the only solution available in 2008 is to tie her down? Why don’t they attach leeches and exorcise demons while they’re at it?

How is this not elder abuse? If she was found at home in this condition, we’d be carted off to jail. As The Clash said, “Murder is wrong, unless it was done by a policeman.”

The whole place is a living hell. There is barely a scrap of humanity left, and certainly no dignity. That being said, there were a few saintly nurses there, who were patient and caring with grandma despite the circumstances.

Here’s a reference
to a study on the overuse of restrains on the elderly.

…and a personal account which spells out how restraints do more harm than good.