The Thunderbird Paradox

Something funny occurred to me the other day. I was one of the last folks locally to switch from Mozilla to Firefox (I still call it Mozilla). The big “complaint” everyone had with Mozilla was “it’s so big and bloated, has all these features that I don’t need in it like email. Who wants that in a web browser”. This made Mozilla Suite a more or less dead project, with little innovation left on it.

Jump forward a couple of years, and the people that were most vocal about moving to Firefox early on, all seem to be running Thunderbird. So now instead of having 1 application open that does both things (presumably a bit more efficiently as it shared a lot more code), they have 2. I’ll admit to firing up Thunderbird from time to time to check news groups, but my use of news groups dropped pretty dramatically once it wasn’t in my browser already.

Irony, you are a cruel mistress.

To Fios or not to Fios?

For the past six months, Verizon has been spending a lot of time in our neighborhood. I was as likely to spot little tented trucks with big spools of cable spilling out, as deer on my way to work. Every day this last week there were Verizon trucks working on poles. And, as I suspected, it was because they were bringing in fiber.

Yesterday morning the Fios Internet flier went up on every mailbox in the neighborhood. The offer for our area is the enhanced deal, so 10 Mbs down / 2 Mbs up for the lowest level of service, and 20 Mbs down / 5 Mbs up for the next level. Given how often the cable modem falls over, and how while they increased the downstream recently, they decreased the upstream, which is annoying for things like NX sessions to work, photo uploads, and a host of other bits.

I’m still trying to figure out what the phone quality is like, before I make the plunge, but I’ll probably look at switching some time this summer.

Fruit is in the eye of the beholder

Last week was the first week of cucumbers from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. There is nothing quite like a vine fresh, picked that day cucumber. Cucumbers are one of the few vegetables that Jay will eat, so we gave him one with dinner.

The scifi night crowd is group of folks that love pedanticness and being right, more than most. It only took a minute for the statement “well, a cucumber is actually a fruit” to come out. The whole group was a bit fuzzy on the definition, though later wikipedia gave the most succinct one I’ve seen so far: a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant (and yes, cucumbers, squash, and even nuts are fruit by that definition). We got pretty close to this definition by group think, which led to inevitably less appealing descriptions of what folks were eating, which I’ll leave to your imagination. Pedanticness aside, fruit is sweet, vegetables are savory, is probably as good a division as any. By this measure I’d still put tomatoes on the fruit side of the line, but then again, the definition is so loose that it’s about as useful as defining planets.

Cucumbers have almost no nutritional value, as they are mostly water, and they grow in about 7 days. Part of the reason that vegetables have such high contents of nutrients is because they take time to grow, and those nutrients take a while to fixate. There was recently a lot of news about that fact that modern vegetables are way less nutritious than those of 60 years ago, which isn’t entirely surprising given mass production in the industry, and the market incentives for speeding up production of vegetables for market.

But on the slow vegetable side of things, we’ve got the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, where Susan and I were picking cucumbers, lettuce, and beets this weekend for the Saturday pickup. After our work shift was over, we picked our own strawberries at the farm (if I wasn’t sold on the slow and organic approach to things, the taste of these strawberries would have made me a believer), and then headed off to a wild black raspberry (and apparently black berry) patch I found last year, that no one seems to pick. 2 quarts of black raspberries later, and a quick stop at the local farmers market for local wine, cheese, and blueberries, and we were home, with an incredible harvest of goods to eat.

As we were sitting out on the porch, nibbling on some berries, I started thinking about raspberries, black raspberries, and black berries. Most fruit is incredibly cultivated. Apples, for instance, are all clones, as it is the only way to ensure the same flavor. The precursor to corn is pretty incredible looking, and you’d never recognize it as such (there is a good Scientific American article about it from 3 years ago). But berries, especially wild berries, seem to be an exception. While there is some cultivation in strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, the wild varieties still exist and thrive, if you know where to look. I’ve got wild strawberries in my lawn, wild blueberries are easily found along many of the local hiking trails, and raspberries… well, they are out there, but I won’t tell you where, because we like picking them so much, and we are fortunate enough to live in an area where picking wild berries seems to be foreign to the minds of most people here. 🙂

Updated: better link on the vegetable nutrient decline.

Never did get the hang of Thursdays

Things you’d rather not hear your wife say first thing in the morning:

We don’t have any water in the house. None of the faucets work.

2 hours later, we have a new well pump, and we have water again, as the old one was burnt out. Not cheap, but given all the other issues that it might have been, at least it was relatively quick and straightforward to fix.

Coffee not so dehydrating after all

Just listening to NPR (I’ll link in the story later once it is in the archive), where they were discussing people not drinking enough and getting dehydrated. Towards the end of the piece it said that while drinking caffinated drinks isn’t as good as water, it isn’t as bad as you might have thought, based on some new research. If you drink a litter of water, you may retain about 800 mils. If you drink a litter of tea, you may retain more like 700 mils. I’m curious where this research actually comes from, but it is interesting. Water is still better, but even coffee seems ok to keep you from getting dehydrated.