Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Click-Hold contextual Menus in Firefox 2.0

Here's a little geek trick for all my Macintosh buddies. I just downloaded Firefox 2.0 (my browser of choice) and I was frustrated beyond belief that I could no longer click and hold on a hyperlink to make the menu pop up where I select "Open link in new Tab."

I have to hold down the control key when I click. I know most PC users can use a right click (or is it left?) for this but most Mac users do not have a multiple key mouse so this new "feature" drove me crazy.

Here's the solution.

Type the following into your browser address field:

A large list of variables will appear. Scroll down to ui.click_hold_context_menus

By default it will say this variable is set to false. Click on the word false to change it to true and now your beautful hold click contextual menus are back where they belong.

Geek on.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Angular Dimension

No, angular dimension is not some alternate reality nor is is a bad new wave 80's band. Angular dimension is the measured size of an object in the sky as expressed, typically, in arcseconds or degrees. In english, "How big does it look in the sky?"

One of the hard things to express to groups sometimes is how big or small stuff is in the sky. A great example is the Andromeda Galaxy. It is 2.5 million light years away and 220,000 light-years wide but how big does it look to us? It is one thing for me to say that is it somewhere around two to three degrees wide but even better to compare it to something we know.

I've often told groups that the moon is only 1/2 a degree wide so they can imagine how big Andromeda would look if only it appeared brighter in our sky.

I wish I always had this photo on hand to show them. Wow.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Minnesota Gears up to be #1 in Wind Power

It seems things may really come together this year to reform state policy on renewable energy. In Minnesota, renewable energy means Wind.

As part of the agreement between then Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy) and the state, money went to build the first wind turbines in exchange for being allowed to have dry cask nuclear storage on the banks of the Mississippi at the Prairie Island nuclear power facility. That was a devil's bargan but at least it kick-started the wind industry in the state.

Now, new proposals in the legislature would force utilities to be 25% renewable by the year 2020. The current goal is 10% by 2015. Increasing to 25% means, according to a StarTribune article, "about 5,000 [more] megawatts of renewable generating capacity to Minnesota's electrical grid. Most of it would probably come from an estimated 3,000 new giant wind turbines dotting farm country" According to the same article we're at 6% renewable now. 25% would be the highest state goal in the country.

Reading the Minnesota senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee Update, I see that on January 16th they had an information session with various interest groups presenting. Tucked in at the end was this gem. "Jay Lofgren, Boise Cascade, asked that the committee define renewable energy as broadly as possible and that members not enact a mandate." Hmm, Boise Cascade? The timber company? I read this to mean they want to consider forests a renewable resource and they have plans to turn Minnesota forests into biomass fuel. Someone please tell me I'm wrong.

Also, the cry from industry for there not to be a mandate is pathetic. "We the people" will stop using mandates when industries do the right thing all on their own, which is to say, never.

"The market" has no morals. We, the people of the nation, do and we have government of, by and for the people (with nods to Lincoln) that is there to set a course for the better future we seek to live in.

I'm happy to see the Minnesota legislature is doing just that.


Friday, January 19, 2007

What Serenity Character am I?

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Zoe Washburn (2nd in Command) 90%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain) 80%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic) 80%
Wash (Ship Pilot) 75%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic) 55%
Inara Serra (Companion) 45%
River Tam(Stowaway) 40%
Derrial Book (Shepherd) 20%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary) 15%
A Reaver (Cannibal) 5%
Alliance 5%

Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hasn't Bush Heard?

Hasn't Bush heard? Neo-conservatism is dead but he refuses to believe it. He's going to send 22,000 more troops into Iraq but insists it isn't an escallation. He calls it s "surge." When pressed, Condoleezza Rice said it was an "augmentation." There is clearly no plan to remove these troops and prior surges into baghdad eariler this have failed.

Give me a break.

I went out last night to protest at University and 280 which is right outside Coleman's office. Starting at 6:00 we had a surge of our own as we filled one whole side of the bridge. Given the awful weather it was a pretty good showing. There was a real lack of good large signs however which needs to be addressed. The bulk of the crowd left within 30 minutes which is okay since the real goal was to get a crowd on TV. This protest site happens to be just down the street from Channel 5. They used some quick shots of the crowd on the 10:00 news to show that opposition to Bush's plan.

There is a larger rally tonight but unfortunatly I cannot attend. :(


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Final 2006 Bird Tally

Here is my final bird tally for 2006. This was the first year I'd decided to count birds. I ended up having a lot of fun. The total was 126 birds though I know I saw more kinds of birds than that these were the ones I was absolutely sure about. I'd feel like I was cheating myself if I counted otherwise. I'm pretty sure I say a grey jay and I probably saw a rough-legged hawk. I also might have seen one more kind of cormorant but, again, they aren't on the list. I also saw more gulls than in any other year and I was only able to ID two of them. I have the ring-billed gull and the black headed gull. I had the western gull on the list temprorarily until I realized I was deluding myself about a positive ID. Gulls are an extremely weak point in my bird identification skills.

2007 will be a harder year in a couple of ways. I'm probably not going to be able to go to arizona and I saw twenty-two species there. Twelve of them are species not found in Minnesota. Likewise, I'll not be going to Washington state so the American Dipper, Caspian Tern, Tufted Puffin, Pelagic Cormorant, Stellar Jay, Pigeon Guillemot, Clarks nutcracker, and the Oregon Dark Eyed-junco are not within my grasp. Thats eight more to make up. Of the twelve species I saw in Norway, the only one I might see here is a mute swan but I don't count captive animals so that's out. All told, if I want to keep up with the 126 total I need to spot thirty two more birds in 2007 within the state Minnesota. Ouch.

Here's the 2006 list (essentially in cronological order)


Black throated sparrow
Great tailed grackle
Great egret
Great blue heron
Mallard duck
Violet green sparrow
Mourning dove
White crowned sparrow
Gambel's quail

Great horned owl
Cactus wren
Curve billed thrasher
Cliff swallow
White breasted nuthatch
Ruby crowned kinglet
Western Bluebird
Yellow rumped warbler (Audubons)
Anna's hummingbird

Common Goldeneye
Common loon
Wood duck
Wild Turkey
Red bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Brown creeper
Northern cardinal
American robin

Blue jay
American goldfinch
Dark eyed junco (slate colored)
Pileated woodpecker
Black capped chickadee
Purple finch
Red shouldered hawk
Bald eagle
Hermit thrush
American crow

Eastern Phoebe
Cedar waxwing
European starling
Ring necked duck
Canada goose
House sparrow
Fox sparrow
Turkey vulture
Hooded merganser

Ring necked pheasant
Brown headed cowbird
Tree swallow
Yellow bellied sapsucker
American coot
Red-tailed hawk
Eastern bluebird
American woodcock
Eastern Towhee

White throated sparrow
Tufted titmouse
Red breasted nuthatch
Yellow rumped warbler (Myrtle)
Chipping sparrow
Barred owl
Barn swallow
common raven
common grackle
Common yellow-throat

Rose Breasted Grosbeak
American Kestrel
Rock Pigeon
Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Meadowlark
field sparrow
Northern Waterthrush
Green Heron
Eastern Kingbird
Song Sparrow

Scarlet Tanager
Chimney Swift
House sparrow
Mourning Warbler
Great Crested Flycatcher
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Sandhill Crane
Yellow Warbler
Steller's Jay
Oregon dark-eyed Junco

American Dipper
Clark's Nutcracker
pigeon guillemot
caspian tern
double-crested cormorant
brown pelican
belted kingfisher
pelagic cormorant
tufted puffin
Eastern Wood Peewee

American Redstart
House wren
Ring billed gull
Chestnut-sided warbler
Blue-grey gnatcatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Magnolia Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Black and white Warbler
White Pelican

Solitary Sandpiper
Magpie (european) [Skjœre]
Great Crested Grebe [Toppdykker]
Greylag Goose [Grågås]
Grey heron [Gråhegre]
Carrion Crow [Kråke]
Mute Swan [Knoppsvan]
Robin (european) [rødstrupe]
Pied Wagtail [Linerle]
Great tit [Kjøttmeis]

Tufted Duck [Toppand]
Great Spotted Wodpecker [Flaggspett]
Black Headed Gull [Hettemåte]
Golden Crowned Kinglet
Pied billed grebe
Trumpeter Swan