Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

jul
11
2012

The Evolution of the Batman Logo

(Via brainpicker)

jul
08
2012

Lily and Milo

Curious disapproval.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Casa Hurtsapong added two new residents: rabbits Lily and Milo.

We’d been considering adopting rabbits for about a year, partly for the “adorable companion” factor, and partly because they seemed to be somewhere between a dog and a cat in terms of work required. (Also: Rob’s highly allergic to cats.) During that time, I had done a lot of reading about rabbits, their diet, behavior and health issues — mainly through the House Rabbit Society and its Maryland / D.C./ NoVa chapter — and I went into it with a good idea of what to expect.

That said, when it finally happened, I don’t think I was quite ready for the crushing emotional weight of the responsibility: Are they fed? Are they watered? Are they pooping? Are they happy? Are they annoying the neighbors? Who takes care of them when we’re away? (Keep in mind that my only previous pet had been a betta fish, about ten years earlier, and I’ve not yet stepped into the emotional minefield that is parenthood.) It took a week or so to settle into a solid routine with them, and I think they’re still slowly warming up to us.

We adopted the buns from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. We were particularly interested in a bonded pair so that they wouldn’t be lonely while we were away at work during the day. Milo and Lily had been surrendered to the shelter a few weeks earlier for reasons that were a little unclear (I’m not sure how much information the volunteers I spoke to knew or were at liberty to disclose), but they seem to have been well cared for prior to their arrival. As we were introduced to the rabbits, we spoke at length with the shelter’s rabbit specialist, who gave us excellent advice about diet and local vet and pet food resources.

As they’ve settled in at our place, it’s been neat to see their very distinct personalities start to come through. Milo is sweet and easygoing, but terrified of the Roomba and sometimes prone to early-morning “feed me now” thumping. He’s very good at disapproving. Lily is very curious and apt to explore — and actively tests any system that tries to contain her. She’s also a chewer and likes to gnaw on anything from kitchen baseboards to the bars of her cage.

Loops

Recently, the Madagascar 3 remix video “59 Minutes of ‘Afro Circus’” led to a friend invoking “Kristen Schaal is a horse for 10 minutes!,” which in turn reminded me of last year’s “Loops” episode of Radiolab:

The episode starts by explaining a little bit behind that “Kristen Schaal is a horse” routine. And while the routine itself is maddening — in that it’s both utterly obnoxious and totally likely to get stuck in your head — the discussion of the audience’s reaction is interesting. And if that segment drives you mad, just skip ahead — the rest of the episode is still worth a listen (and the obnoxious meter drops quite a bit).

Iceland Recap: Day 7

Beautiful Playing Cards

Tuesday, May 1, was our last day in Iceland, spent wandering around downtown Reykjavik before heading to the airport.

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jul
06
2012

Airline to Heaven

My song of the day: Wilco’s cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Airline to Heaven,” performed at Farm Aid in 2005. I came across it this morning via the band’s Mermaid Avenue collaboration with Billy Bragg, on a later volume that I …

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jul
05
2012

Civil War Datavis

I’m fascinated by this census map — apparently circa 1861 — of the slave population in the southern United States and the painstaking, not-computer-assisted work that must have gone into creating it. I came across it the other night while browsing NOAA’s historical map collection.

(Map Showing the Distribution of the Slave Population of the Southern States of the United States - 1860. Image from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey Historical Map & Chart Collection)

jun
25
2012

Sweeping Vista

Iceland Recap: Day 6

Monday, April 30, was mostly a driving day as we made our way southwest, back to Reykjavik. The weather was gray and windy and rainy and cold, which made the drive all the more exhausting. The day started with breakfast …

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Glaumbær

Iceland Recap: Day 5

Sunday, April 29, was our sixth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by wandering a lava field, hiking up a volcanic crater and chasing daylight near the Arctic Circle. The day began with an excellent breakfast — maybe the best of our …

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jun
14
2012

Gray and Mist

Iceland Recap: Day 4

Saturday, April 28, was a gray, gray travel day, as we drove from Höfn, in the southeast of Iceland, to Mývatn in the northeast. Before we hit the road, our host at Hoffell brought over some wonderful warm bread. I …

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Dyrhólaey

Iceland Recap: Day 3

Friday, April 27, was probably the “natural wonder” highlight of our trip. Our day started with a morning hike around Dyrhólaey, a peninsula (and puffin nesting ground!) just outside of Vik. It’s hard to go wrong with black sand volcanic …

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Approaching the Waterfall

Iceland Recap: Day 2

Thursday, April 26, was our first day on the road. A representative from Dollar / Thrifty picked us up from Kex Hostel, drove us to the rental office and set us up with a Ford Mondeo and a Garmin GPS. …

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jun
10
2012

Vanishing Point

Iceland Recap: Day 1

Our Icelandair flight departed D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) the evening of Tuesday, April 24, and landed at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF) around 6 a.m. the following morning. Neither Rob nor I got much sleep on the 5-½-hour flight, …

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Icelandair Plane at Keflavik

Iceland Recap

So at the end of April, Rob and I took a one-week road trip along Iceland’s Ring Road. The trip was inspired in part by Rob’s layover there en route to Stockholm last fall, Icelandair’s aggressive ad campaign around D.C. …

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jun
01
2012

Campaign Finance 2012: Where Your Money Can Go | NPR

Campaign Finance infographic

I worked on this NPR Politics infographic with S.V. Dáte and Greg Henderson. It’s mostly a straightforward chart, but I had some fun trying to visualize the streams of money from the different donor types to the various classes of political organizations. Thicker lines denote greater sums of money that can be legally donated.

Recent court cases have changed the rules about money in federal politics, but there still are rules. Here’s a snapshot of donors and fundraising recipients across the political spectrum — ranging from the candidates themselves to the new superPACs to different categories of 501(c) tax-exempt, nonprofit groups. It shows how much money can be donated, how that money can be spent and when donor names can be kept secret.

This is part of NPR’s ongoing coverage of money and politics.

View the Project »

may
31
2012

Tiny Desk Concert: Patrick Watson

I missed Patrick Watson’s Tiny Desk performance, but I saw him later that night at the 9:30 Club, opening for Andrew Bird. Lovely lovely. The song “Words in the Fire,” from his most recent album “Adventures in Your Own Backyard,” …

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may
30
2012

Sizing Up The American Dream | NPR

I worked with April Fehling and Tanya Ballard Brown on an infographic about some of the typical components of the “American dream” — part of our series “American Dreams: Then And Now.”

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