A Really Big Rain Barrel

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Photo courtesy of _SiD_

This is the coolest thing I've heard of in a while. Apparently Orange County uses the big networks of run-off canyons to route rain into the ground-water-table. It's like a massive version of the canonical Seattle rain barrel that catches and saves water from your gutter implemented at a municipal scale. Further coolness is that fact that the 2 billion gallons that Orange County has captured in the last few days has an estimated value of $1.5 million.

Sciencedude - OCRegister.com
"OCWD uses small dams in the Santa Ana River, near Honda Center, to corral water, which is then guided to percolation fields. "

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Books that {high/low} SAT scorers read

High SAT books

Someone at CalTech looked at correlations between the most popular books at various colleges (according to Facebook) and then looked at the average SAT score at that college to see which books are correlated with high SATs and which books are correlated with low SATs . The high SAT books are on the left. The low SAT books are on the right. The results are from here.

Low SAT books

One of the first things I noticed on these lists was that reading "The Holy Bible" indicates that you aren't very bright. In fact, if you look at the data closer (not here but on the original site) it appears that calling the Bible, "The Holy Bible," indicates you aren't at a place with high SAT scores. If instead, you call the Bible, "the Bible" , then it is likely that your institution has much higher SAT scores. Furthermore, in the full list there are a number of Biblical exigeses that also correlate with high SAT scores.

So an interpretation that is a little bit of a stretch would be: people who read the Bible and don't do much to try and understand it tend to have lower SAT scores. But if you think about that for a second, that really has nothing to do with the Bible. If you don't try and understand things you're never going to get smarter.

But the real question is how many have *I* read. On the left I've read "Freakanomics" and "Catch 22". "Atlas Shrugged" is on my pile of to-read books. On the right I've read "Fahrenheit 451" and I suppose, "The Holy Bible".

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"Peace Beaver"

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Photo courtesy of Qba from Poland

"The Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands desires a safe conduct to come and speak with you," said the dwarf, " on a matter which is as much to your advantage as to hers."
"Queen of Narnia, indeed!" said Mr. Beaver. "Of all the cheek ---"
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan. "All names will soon be restored to their proper owners. In the meantime we will not dispute about them."


"Oh," said Mr. Beaver. "So that's how you came to imagine yourself a queen -- because you were the Emperor's hangman. I see."
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan, with a very low growl.
"And so," continued the Witch, "that human creature is mine. His life if forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

From C.S. Lewis's, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

I love that saying... "Peace Beaver." I love the Chronicles of Narnia as a book. As a movie I'm ambivalent.

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The 9 types of college teachers


I have found myself looking for this cartoon repeatedly over the years. It is from Matt Groening's "School is Hell" book and it shows a list of nine different types of professors. My favorite is The-Single-Theory-To-Explain-Everything-Maniac. I often feel like that guy.

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Goodbye Uncle Bill

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Photo courtesy of kevandem

My Uncle Bill passed away yesterday afternoon after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Uncle Bill was a person that always reminded me of an old photograph where somber looking black and white weather beaten farmers are leaning on a tractor while kids play in the background. He was given a difficult life but it never seemed to get him down.

Uncle Bill married my Aunt Penny years ago. Shortly afterward my Aunt was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy multiple sclerosis. They had one son, my cousin Billy, who also has M.D. M.S. as well as a variety of other medical issues.

So the part of my life that I knew Uncle Bill, I knew him as a man who was faithfully taking care of a very sick wife and son. I remember visiting him in a very literal shack in Ohio. I was a kid, so I didn't quite realize how poor they were, but the floors were sloped and the roof leaked. I think the house was held together by the linoleum on the floor more than the wood underneath. Uncle Bill had a garden out back where he grew a pretty big chunk of the food that they ate. He lived next to some horses. That was were I learned about electric fences and how not to touch them. He fixed tractors and lawn mowers for a living. Most of the support that they got came from grants from the National M.D. M.S. Society. There were a lot of cigarettes, beer and good ole boys around Uncle Bill.

My Aunt Penny was always sick when I knew her. She had trouble walking and eventually wasn't able to walk. She would always do her very best to be a gracious hostess though. My dad would go on and on about her "Dishwater Potatoes". They were good, but I think mostly he was trying to encourage his sister. Eventually my aunt had trouble swallowing and then trouble breathing. She passed away one afternoon from choking on some cashews in a nursing home. She just became too weak to clear her throat.

With all of these people passing away in my family it causes me to reflect a lot on what was important to these people in their hardest moments. My Uncle Larry asked us to pray for "patience and courage" as he was approaching his death. Reflecting on that will be a lifetime's work. My Aunt Nancy was always generous and looking for a way to have fun. Uncle Bill stood by his wife and son for years with a great attitude through a deteriorating illness and no shortage of poverty. Uncle Bill was a pretty straightforward simple person, but sure made a great role model.

Death sure puts life in perspective. I'm going to bump up "learn to play the fiddle" on my list and go make a really good cup of coffee. So long Uncle Bill. I hope I never have to be as strong as you were.

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Uncle Bill always made a point to be at every family event! He went to all the wedding, my college graduation, and visited Aunt Penny's grave a lot with Charlene.

Posted by: Andrea and Nate at January 28, 2008 6:20 PM

The Rest of the Rest of Us

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Photo courtesy of peterbaker

Dale Dougherty writes, in this very timely piece, a response to the MacWorld Apple announcements and the realization that many of the technological advancements that get "us" excited are worthless to most of the world.

The Rest of the Rest of Us

"It's unacceptable that our government is indifferent to the poor. But let me reframe this argument again in terms of technology, lest you think I'm trying to make a political point. (I hope you understand that I'm not trying to argue on behalf of a candidate but rather for the importance of poverty as an issue deserving our full attention.)

Is the high-tech world indifferent to the problems of the poor? Do we have any competence that matters in helping them find a better life? Or are we just making "the happy few" that much happier?

What is a social network if the people facing the toughest problems are not part of it? They don't need more signs that tell them that they are on their own. The have-nots don't do networking. It doesn't get them anywhere."

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Agathos Video

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Posted by: Nate at January 16, 2008 4:12 AM

UCI rejects a lot of spam

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Photo courtesy of chotda

Sciencedude >> Blog Archive>> UCI rejects 2,500 spam messages per minute - OCRegister.com

"UCI rejects 2,500 spam messages per minute"

I get quoted at the end. It's a very good professor day!

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Have you got anything without spam?

Posted by: Nate at January 11, 2008 11:31 AM