The wolf in the back yard

This weekend, some friends decided to host a party. These particular friends have a pet timber wolf, and wanted some place to keep her during the party, so zaiah volunteered to wolf-sit for the weekend.

Wolves are big. Bigger than I thought. This wolf, Raksha, is also such a sweetheart, and curled up at my feet while I worked on the computer. Some days, I feel like I’m just an expensive suit and a volcano lair away from being a supervillain.

Clicky for more!

Well, I’ve finally got ’round to an old project…

…an update to the interactive version of the Map of Human Sexuality.

Finally solved the single biggest problem with it, which was that you could not correct a mistake while you were creating a map. With the new version, you can now remove a pin if you accidentally place one in the wrong page…a simple idea that took a lot of head-pounding and hair-tearing to implement.

Next on the List of Things To Do is to make a login system so you can go back and update/change your map later.

And in honor of the revamped map software, I’ve created a new personal map that reflects some of the new things I’ve tried since doing the original!


Find out where I’ve journeyed
on the Map of Human Sexuality!
Or get your own here!

Link of the Day: Legacy

This link goes to a very short (only a few paragraphs long) story written by kennric as part of a project he’s doing to write 52 original short stories in 52 weeks, one story per week for a year.

This story is number 17 in the project, and it’s called Legacy. It’s a meditation on transhumanism and uploading and what it means to be a copy, and it’s quite beautiful. aclaro, figmentj, datan0de, femetal…I think you guys in particular will enjoy it. Thanks to zaiah for the link.

Warning: Reading this story made me cry.

The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths.

This has been making the rounds of the Internet, and if you haven’t seen it already, you should.

If you have seen it already, you should see it again.

It seems to me that scientists and others who explore the physical processes of the universe are without question the very same people most filled with awe and wonder at what it offers.

Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking: A Glorious Dawn

The wonder of the physical universe: Naica, Mexico

Naica, Mexico is home to a number of lead and silver mines. It is also home to a geological formation that appears to be unique in all the world: the Crystal Cave of Giants, discovered accidentally by mine workers in 2000.

The Crystal Cave is a gigantic underground formation containing the largest natural crystal formations ever recorded. The cave is superheated by a pocket of subsurface magma, and until recently was entirely flooded with water that was supersaturated with gypsum and other minerals. The combination of high temperature, superheated and supersaturated water, and time (lots of it–about 500,000 years, to be exact) produced one of the most mind-bogglingly beautiful things on earth:

The cave has been pumped dry by mine workers, who accidentally broke into it while mining for lead. It’s still superheated by magma; the temperature within the cave is a steady 122 degrees F with a humidity of over 90%. Explorers in the cave use special chilled suits and breathing masks, and even with this equipment can only remain within it for 15-45 minutes at a time.

The cave is doomed; when the mines are played out over the next few years, the mining companies will stop pumping the water out, and the influx of new, non-supersaturated water will destroy the crystal formations. There’s more about the cave, and more pictures, here.

I love the physical world. There is not a single day of my life that goes by when I am not boggled and awestruck by how magnificent this universe is. Should I live to be ten thousand years old, I will never, ever stop being awestruck by how awesome all of this is. Take a handful of basic particles, make them obey certain fairly simple rules, and the things you end up with are beautiful and magnificent beyond comprehension.

We, as self-aware entities, are the part of the universe that understands itself, and that one simple fact gives us incalculable value. I will never understand the tendency of some people to turn away from the wonders of the physical world into a tiny, feeble make-believe universe that’s a paltry six thousand years old and soon to be rendered obsolete by some invisible man with magic powers who lives up in the sky and spends a great deal of time worrying about what kind of clothes we wear and how we have sex.

The universe is incomprehensibly large and incomprehensibly fine-grained, ancient and mysterious and filled with so much beauty that it’s hard to imagine any person seeing it without being filled with reverence and awe. The more we learn about the physical universe, the more beautiful and magnificent it is. The desire to turn away from understanding the world around us and retreat into an imaginary bestiary of little gods and demons is the desire to turn away from the greatest beauty we can ever hope to bear witness to.

Lust

My birthday is coming up soon. I mention this for two reasons: first, because it means that I have to renew my vehicle registration; and second, because… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

The registration is relevant to the object of my lust, because, you see, Georgia requires vehicle emissions testing every time the registration on a car or truck is renewed.

This afternoon, during my lunch break, I went to have my emissions tested. The place where this is done is a tiny steel building, about the size of a Quonset hut or metal shed, with a diminutive office–really, a space hardly big enough for two chairs and a magazine stand–attached.

In the magazine stand were several copies of some “high fashion” magazine or other; I don’t remember their names, as they all look the same to me.

In the magazine I picked up at random and flipped through while the technician revved my engine and prodded my car was an article on wristwatches. And in that article was a description of the thing to which I am by degrees coming.

It is a wristwatch made by a company called Romaine Jerome.

It is not a wristwatch in any conventional sense of the term, however. Rather than a dial and hands, it tells time by means of small drums which rotate, and on which are printed numbers. The drums are driven by–get this–a tiny chain, like a bicycle chain whose miniscule links are well under half a millimeter in size. The whole thing is steampunk and retro and gorgeous beyond belief.

This, gentle readers, is the Romaine Jerome Cabestan watch:

Just the thing for a steampunk ‘con costume.

The only down side? Suggested retail price: $220,000.00 US. Did I mention my birthday is coming up?

Back from the doctor, and Penthouse Magazine digs me

The last few days of zaiah‘s visit, I was sick as a dog–first with her cold, then with an opportunistic throat infection that moved in while the crack special forces commandos of my immune system were busy dealing with that issue. Stayed awake all night last night with a sky-high fever and hacking cough, lost my voice, went to the doctor’s office this morning, I’m now on some potent broad-spectrum antibiotics which should give the opportunistic bacteria the what-for.

Still can’t talk, though. Which sucks when you’re me.

So not as much kinky sex and other fun stuff as I had hoped.

On the more interesting side, though, I got an email from one of the editors of Penthouse magazine. She said they want to do an article about the Human Sexuality Map, and could I send them a press-ready version of the file kthx? Right now it’s slated for publication in the March 2009 issue. (When I first started working on it, figmentj predicted it was going to turn out to be a big deal. She was right.)

I really, really want to make posters of the map. Unfortunately, it looks like unless I’m prepared to plunk down a lot of cash for a large production run, the posters are gonna cost me in the neighborhood of $12 apiece to print(!), and I doubt I can sell them for much more than that. I can get the price way down if I print a whole lot of them, but then I’m out a bunch of cash I don’t have and I’ll be sitting on a huge pile of posters if nobody wants ’em. Grr.

One thing I think I will do, though, if I do make posters, is put a glossary on the bottom of the poster. I still get a lot of “What does ____ mean?” emails.

Neat Tech

The idea is surprisingly simple once you think about it: pair a large touch-screen LCD display of the type used in the Microsoft Surface prototype and elsewhere with an ordinary mirror. Simple, but the result is, I think, a whole lot more interesting than just large-format touch screen displays alone:

There’s a blog entry on the gizmo from the folks who dreamed it up.

I like living in the future. 🙂