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August 31, 2006

100,000 Visitors

This week my web site got its 100,000th visitor of the year. In all of last year I only got 81,000 and 16,000 the year before. I think this internet thing might be catching on.

I also got my fourth payment from Google and made my first profit-sharing payment to CARE. They are a global aid group based in Atlanta. I set up a system that will pay them automatically each quarter a few days after I receive my Amazon payment. They will get roughly 30% of my combined proceeds from Amazon and Google which will still leave me with enough money for a new iPod early next year when they come out and a new Palm this Fall. Originally my idea was to do one of those deals where you sponsor a child, so essentially something non-tangible like the web site would be supporting a non-virtual child in the developing world somewhere. But at some point during my research into sponsorship organizations I decided CARE would be a better choice. Maybe I liked that they are based locally. I still think Save the Children is a great organization and may do something with them eventually.

August 25, 2006

Pluto is a Tomato

Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet yesterday is making all the news. As a follow-up to my comment on Jeb's post, Boortz's complaint was even less valid when he said it took 3,000 astronomers to decide on Pluto's status, since only 300 actually voted on the issue.

Anyway, whether Pluto is a planet or not is like whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Ultimately it doesn't really affect anything. But just so you know, I looked up the definition of vegetable in my Microsoft Bookshelf dictionary, which says that any plant product grown to be eaten is a vegetable. That includes lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and I guess wheat. So tomatoes are clearly a vegetable.

vegetable: noun; Abbr. veg.

1. a. A plant cultivated for an edible part, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower. b. The edible part of such a plant. c. A member of the vegetable kingdom; a plant.

Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of whether a tomato is a fruit. For that you need the definition of fruit:

fruit: noun; plural fruit or fruits

1. a. The ripened ovary or ovaries of a seed-bearing plant, together with accessory parts, containing the seeds and occurring in a wide variety of forms. b. An edible, usually sweet and fleshy form of such a structure. c. A part or an amount of such a plant product, served as food: fruit for dessert.

Under definition 1b, a tomato is not a fruit, but under 1a, it is. So I think you can say that a tomato is the fruit of the tomato plant, but not in the same sense as apples and bananas.

The definition of tomato had an interesting story:

Word Origin: It has been said that the real contributions to world civilization were made by the unknown inhabitants of the Americas who domesticated plants such as the potato and squash and not by the great pre-Columbian civilizations, including that of the Aztecs. The tomato was another contribution, its name coming ultimately from the Nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs as well as by other groups in Mexico and Central America. The Spanish, who conquered the area, brought back the tomato to Spain and, borrowing the Nahuatl word tomatl for it, named it tomate, a form shared in French, Portuguese, and early Modern English. Tomate, first recorded in 1604, gave way to tomato, a form created in English either because it was assumed to be Spanish or under the influence of the word potato. In any case, as is well known, people resisted eating this New World food at first because its membership in the Nightshade family made it suspect, but it is now eaten throughout the world while Aztec civilization is memorialized by ruins.

The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright Ā© 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

August 15, 2006


I decided to do some research on names for the new dog. For instance, if I was going to name him "Kevin" then I wanted to make sure that there wasn't a belief that naming a dog Kevin was bad luck, or that dogs named Kevin are considered a delicacy in Burma. I didn't find anything like that, but I did find out that Kevin is Irish and means handsome and/or beloved (I think the dog looks kind of like Kevin Costner who is both handsome and beloved).

I also found a neat site run by the Social Security Administration where they rank the popularity of different names by year. I guess they know everyone's name and date of birth. If a name falls in the top 1000, then it will be listed. You can also pull up the popularity of names over time. For instance, in the year I was born, Michael, John, and David were the most popular boy names (Lisa, Mary, and Karen were the most popular for girls). That year Kevin was number 13, about the highest it ever got. In 2005, Jacob, Michael, and Joshua were the most popular names for boys and Emily, Emma, and Madison were the most popular for girls. Meanwhile, Edward has gone from 29th to 134th, putting it behind even Trevor at 112th.


August 13, 2006

New Dog

Yesterday I went to the Paws Atlanta shelter with Katie to look for dogs. We wound up taking home a near twin of Katie, except he is male.

He is part pit bull, I'm sure (he has a big head), but he has a very sweet disposition despite some unsolicited advances on Katie yesterday. I don't think he has barked yet. He is extremely skinny right now, but has been eating a lot, so he should be fine. Though I formally adopted him, I consider him to be on a working test for the first week or so. The shelter named him Austin, which is okay, but I'm thinking about Buddy, Buster, or Trevor. Any suggestions are welcome. Katie seems largely indifferent towards him. They don't play, but they don't growl at each other. He is very affectionate towards me though.

When Katie and I went to the shelter they said we could go around and look at the larger dogs in kennels in the back. They asked if I had brought someone to watch Katie while I looked at dogs and warned Katie could get freaked out with all the barking. I took her around back anyway and the barking was very intense with all of the dogs barking at me and Katie. Katie just didn't know what to do. We stayed back there for a couple of minutes before I realized I just needed to take Katie back to the car, not just for her sake, but for all of the dogs. Only a couple of dogs didn't bark at her. Without Katie, the dogs were markedly more relaxed, but a lot of them still barked. There were probably 40 or 50 dogs, mostly in individual kennels and their names and some statistics were on cards on the gate (Austin's said "Approximate date of birth: 5/21/04 I'm A Big Handsome Boy Who Is Friendly & Loves To Play. I'm Housebroken & Well Behaved Inside. I'll Be Your Best Friend If You Give Me A Good Home! I Do Well With Other Dogs, But No Cats Please."). I wrote down JD, Boomerang, Venus, Baylyn, and Bamba. I was looking for grown females. I thought training a puppy again would be tough and it might be tough on Katie as well having a dog that wanted to play so much.

I went back and got Katie out of the car and took her back to the main desk to ask to see the dogs. While we were in there a large cat jumped out of its unlatched cage and attacked Katie. We hurried outside and waited for someone to put that cat away. Katie is defintely not happy at this point. It turns out the cat was a Katrina rescue. Yikes. But when it wasn't around dogs, apparently it was very laid back. First they brought out Baylyn, who was one of the dogs that hadn't barked at Katie. But after a few seconds of greeting Baylyn growled and jumped on poor Katie. Next they brought out Boomerang who it turns out has been at the shelter for a long time. Katie and Boomerang were pretty much indifferent plus she didn't seem to care much about me either. At that point another shelter person walked up and asked if we had met Austin yet, so I said she could go get him. He was very sweet and friendly, but again Katie wasn't going to have anything to do with him. We took Katie and Austin for a walk together on the dog trail and Austin was very well behaved, so I figured I would get him. They said he had been found by one of the shelter workers a couple of months earlier. He lived for a month or so with a foster family that had big dogs and had been at the shelter the last month or so. They don't have much turnover among older big dogs, so they were very happy he had found a home. It takes a while to fill out the paperwork, but not too much later I was driving off with him and Katie.

Despite his description, he didn't have really good table manners at first (though he was pretty excited). I sat on the sofa and he hopped up on the coffee table. He put his foot in the water dish for some reason and splashed a bunch of water out. But he does appear to be housebroken and will lie down and relax if I don't pet him. He will jump up on me and doesn't know sit, but I think he will learn those pretty quickly. He doesn't growl at Katie, but he did try to mate with her (he is neutered and Katie is spayed, like all shelter dogs) several times yesterday. I thought for a while last night that I would have to take him back (sexual harrassment is grounds for failure of the working test). He must have been reading my mind, because today he didn't try that again.

He is very bony. You can see all of his ribs, vertebrae, and his hip bones too. But he goes through his food without even chewing. I think maybe he wasn't eating as much just because he was around so many other dogs. When he sits he kind of sits on the side of his back end, so he may have had problems with his legs at some point. On walks he kind of goes all over and Katie and I are both having to get used to the whole leg-lifting thing. On our walks today he showed a lot of improvement and mostly stayed on my right, which is good because that is where Clio used to walk.

August 9, 2006

Kitty Corner

I remember as a kid that we would say something was catercorner if it was diagonally opposite of something. We must have gotten that from mom and dad, because that doesn't seem like a word that you learn in school. I think now I probably say cattycorner (apparently a southern thing), but I've heard people say kittycorner as well (maybe a black thing). It turns out all of these can be used.

Catercorner is the original version of the word and is apparently not based on cats, but on the French word for four, "quatre," an old form of which was "cater." This link says that the word is an example of folk etymology, which happens when people change a word to make it more like words they are familiar with. Other examples are "piggyback," based on "pick-a-back" and "wheelbarrow" from "wheel bearwe."