Tue, 28 Apr 2009

A Storm of Wings

— SjG @ 8:33 pm

While on balcony and talking on the phone this afternoon, I was surprised to see a hummingbird sitting boldly on a branch, a scant few feet out of reach. She regarded me without apparent fear, turning her head slightly this way and that, blinking, and fluffing her breast feathers. After what seemed a long time of mutual observation, I stepped away from her, and she shot off in a wild trajectory up and then back down amongst the branches.

Perhaps she thought I wouldn’t be able to track her sudden course, but I have millions of years of predatory ancestors guiding my vision, so I saw her arrive at her nest. She fed the two tiny chicks in the nest, unaware of my continued viewing.

Walking home, I saw a crow chasing an indignant seagull away. I’ve seen crows chase hawks, but never a seagull. I tend to think of gulls as being more graceful fliers, and crows as being more acrobatic, but both birds were engaging in rapid, erratic flight. After a hundred-meter chase, the crow returned to what I’m assuming must have been its mate, and probably nesting site.

Apropos wings, I’ve seen more hummingbird moths in the garden this year than I think I’ve seen in all previous years combined. And the golden male carpenter bees as well.

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Tue, 14 Apr 2009

Installing VMWare Server 2 on Fedora Core 10

— SjG @ 5:33 pm

I was having problems getting it to go. The was having issues with the kernel headers.

Turns out, you just have to look in the right place. Amazing, eh?

For my install, it was


I also needed to actually, you know, reboot to get that shiny new kernel running.

Thu, 2 Apr 2009

Big Numbers

— SjG @ 1:19 pm

There are 1011 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

— Richard Feynman
US educator & physicist (1918 – 1988)

A galaxy is composed of gas and dust and stars — billions upon billions of stars.

— Carl Sagan
Astronomer, author, & media personality (1934 – 1996)

Even though Wikipedia claims 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way, Feynman’s number varies by only a couple factors of two.

According to Oxfam, there has been $8.4 Trillion spent on bailouts. So, call that about US $21/star in the Milky Way. That’s a lot of money.

Oh, but doesn’t stop there. According to the Office of the Comptroller, the “notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks” is around $200.4 trillion. So call that US $500/star in the Milky Way.

As has been widely reported, DK Matai, the Chairman of the ACTA Open, has published that the outstanding value of the derivative market worldwide is US $1.1 Quadrillion. That’s a cool US $2,750/per star in the Milky Way galaxy.