The beginning of 2014.
--This day-by-day map depiction of World War II in seven minutes is fascinating. I knew that the Axis started to really begin falling in early 1944, but this map shows how the Allies stopped their forward momentum in November of 1942.
--A friend and hunting buddy this morning announced that it was 6 times warmer than it was yesterday, by virtue of the fact that his thermometer showed 12 degrees Fahrenheit today, and just 2°F yesterday. Thinking that he was joking, I mentioned that his quantities might be off. He asked why. (This guy is VERY smart. He's a paramedic and a computer whiz. So no slamming him.) I responded:
"Well, degrees Fahrenheit don't actually measure absolute heat. However, degrees Kelvin *DO*. Fahrenheit set "zero" on his scale of temperature as being the lowest temperature that he could achieve, using ice and salt. He set 100 at what he thought was the human body temperature. (Look, it was the late 17th century. Cut him some slack.) Kelvin uses centigrade units above absolute zero. Zero degrees Fahrenheit is actually 255.37K. When it was 2 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, it was 256.483 Kelvin yesterday. At 12 Fahrenheit today, it is actually 262.039 Kelvin, which is 1.004358... times warmer than yesterday, relative to Absolute Zero."
My buddy made a rude noise.
--It staggered me, the first time that I found out that there was a temperature below which nothing could go.
--And I didn't know until today that the Triple Point of water is used as part of the scientific definition of the Kelvin unit. ("The kelvin is defined as the fraction 1⁄273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water (exactly 0.01 °C or 32.018 °F).")
--Every year, my wife and I hold off on giving each other Christmas gifts, and then agree together to buy something that we both want in January or February. Well, this year, she broke the agreement, and surprised me by unilaterally purchasing a Rancilio Sylvia espresso machine. I've owned small consumer espresso machines before, but they were the sub-$100 sheet metal stamped variety that turned out indifferent results. This thing is superb.
When you turn it on, it will build up the pressure, and then turn out the light like a waffle iron to tell you that you're good to go. You then punch the switch for espresso, and the double spouts will begin to push out dark rich espresso with a bit of crema atop it. Hit the switch for foam, and open the valve and vigorous foam makes milk magical. Flip the switch to hot water, and you get water perfect for tea or to add to your espresso for an Americano.
It weighs a young ton.
It takes up very little counter space.
There is a bit of a learning curve to pulling a perfect shot.
It's the nicest thing that I've been given in a long, long time.
We're going through about a gallon of milk a day in this house, now.
--I have yet to have built a "Gay Cynic Special": 8 shots of espresso served over ice. Even in Seattle, the barrista's eyes widened at that order.
--In terms of style and distinctiveness, I think that the other states envy the Texas flag. Well, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska don't. And probably not Tennessee.
--What's the deal with the crescent moon on the SC flag?
--One of our cats two went missing 6 days ago. We've since had several sub-20 degree nights. I suspect that the neighbor shot it. I have not approached him; I cannot be objective. He told my colleagues that he threw out a firecracker to make the cats stop fighting at night. Semi-outdoor cats run a risk, and we knew that. My younger daughter, who had a serious cat crush on that animal, wakes up crying and saying that she dreamt that he was on her bed. I've had offers of a new cat. I can't. I don't need another creature in my heart, or in my daughter's heart. I need a break.
--One of these days, some boy will make my daughter this sad. And I'll have to deal with my initial reaction there, too.
--Here's a well-rendered map of the contiguous continental United States yesterday, showing that the average temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit. I like how they put clear delineations at the freezing point of water and at zero degrees F.