You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for September, 2008.


September 30th, 2008

I just switched to Google Reader to maintain the links over on my sidebar. It’s far better than Bloglines, which I’ve been tired of for a while, but was too lazy to change.

Tea and Toast

September 29th, 2008

The papers of Audrey Taylor, a former Deputy Head Royal Coffee Maid, are being sold at auction. Ms. Taylor died last month.

The papers reveal the breakfast and tea preferences of various members of the royal family. Among other mundane revelations, Prince Phillip and the famously tightwad Queen Elizabeth enjoy toast with their afternoon tea, a preference that strikes me as either pleasantly charming or shockingly frugal — or perhaps both, I can’t decide.

Tiny Bands

September 28th, 2008

Here’s an interesting article from a few years aback about Joan Day-Martin, a hummingbird educator and bander. She is one of 150 people world wide certified by the US department of fish and wildlife to band hummingbirds, thus allowing them to be tracked by scientists all over. The article is full of all kinds of hummingbird information, such as:

…the bright colors of hummingbird throats (and sometimes their caps) comes not from pigment but from a trick of light. Tiny hairs called barbules split the sunlight into beams of pure color, something like a prism or the way a soap bubble creates a rainbow. That’s why when you look at a hummingbird from one angle, its throat seems black—the actual color of the feathers—but from a different perspective it appears brilliantly blue or ruby-colored.

On using gifts

September 27th, 2008

I like to make gifts.

Often a recipient says that a particular item is “too nice to use.” This makes me sad. While I work on an item that’s intended as a gift, I imagine the recipient using it, loving it and wearing it out. I’m careful to match what I know about the recipient to the pattern and the materials so that caring for it will not be a burden. Even with baby stuff, I am aware of all the bodily and other fluids that could end up on the item, and I choose yarns and patterns that can stand up to a lot of rough use and washing.

The greatest compliment anyone could ever give to me about something I made would be to hand it back to me a year later and say “I’m so sorry, we love it so much, we use it all the time and now look, it has a hole in it. Can you please fix it for me?” I’d probably cry with joy, and I would gladly fix it. My hope when creating something is that the recipient will get as much love out of it as I’ve put into it.

So if I’ve made something for you, please don’t hesitate to use it. Nothing would make me happier to come over to your house and see it worn out. Besides, if you don’t wear it out, you’ll never give me an excuse to make a new one for you!!

Puke Pets

September 24th, 2008

Puke pets are small, animal-shaped pins that you can use to camouflage small spills and stains. Imagine this: you’re drinking your morning cup of tea, and you slop a bit on your white shirt. You could go change. Or you could tack a puke pet on your shirt next to the dribble, making it into an artistic statement. See Puke Pets here.

No comment on whether I am buying any for myself.


September 23rd, 2008

This year’s MacArthur Fellows Award winners have been announced. Several doctors, writers, artists, scientists of various sorts, and one urban farmer.


September 23rd, 2008

Plans for a perpetual motion machine that rely on a fish and a whale. The very best part is the footnote that says “at least.”

New Music

September 21st, 2008

I heard a radio interview with Theresa Andersson on Studio360 that totally blew my mind.

She’s a one woman band — only she’s unlike any one woman band I’ve ever seen. She plays guitar, drums, and fiddle and also sings and samples vinyl records. The cool part is that she records all of this and loops it, building up layers of sound. And at the end of every performance, she erases it. Each performance is unique and spontaneous. You can watch the Studio360 interview here (scroll down) where she describes her technique, but for better pictures of what she does, check out this video and keep an eye on her feet.

There are three different songs streaming on her MySpace page, and she has several CDs available — which I’ve already bought. I’d love her music even if I didn’t know how it was made.


September 20th, 2008

I’ve never been good at getting regular exercise. That’s one reason I like to take classes, they help me stay motivated by providing diversity and community. Over the years I’ve taken regular aerobics classes, step aerobics, salsa aerobics, and jazzercise classes. I’ve also taken spinning classes, abs classes, kick-boxing classes, weight tone classes, and once — just once — a running class. I’ve also tried yoga and pilates, and I’m sure I’m forgetting half a dozen other classes. I’m a class person.

Right now I’m taking a deep water running class. It’s exactly what it sounds like — you run in the water. Most people wear some type of buoyancy device (belts are common, as are cuffs) to keep their heads above water. Then you run, using as close to the same form that you use when you run on land. You do this in deep water, so the only part of your body that’s out of the water is your head — which means that you are getting a zero-impact, full-body resistance workout.

It’s both easier and harder than it sounds. It’s fun, diverting, and it wipes me out. Here’s a little video showing what it looks like (note: I’m not in the video — I’m not that brave — I googled it up).

There’s gonna be a revolution

September 19th, 2008

But it won’t be a good one. The Bush administration is pushing a new DHHS rule that would require that “any health care entity that receives federal financing … certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable.”

The rule is very broad, and goes far further than the relevant laws in this area. It specifically says that employees cannot be required to assist in performing abortions. However, abortion is not defined, allowing institutions and employees to define it for themselves. As we all know, such definitions can be incredibly broad, including things like birth control pills, voluntary sterilizations, IUDs, and almost anything else. You can read more about the proposed regulation here.

This proposed rule is open to public comment until September 25. Comments can be submitted by e-mail to