I was reading this article about bedtime stories (via Feministe).

My parents would read me a story before I went to bed each night, and it was always something I looked forward to. .. This absolutely fostered a love of literature and reading in me from a very young age, and had I not had this experience, I might not have become an English major in undergrad and gone on to teach high school English.

I think every family has some kind of bedtime ritual like this.  Kids like rituals, in general, and I know I did when I was little.

It gets really interesting when she points out that it doesn’t matter what you do before bed. It doesn’t have to be a story:

[B]edtime math can be a great way to get kids, especially girls, involved with math from a very young age. This is important because, although there is no difference in math ability between girls and boys, girls do tend to suffer more from math anxiety than their male counterparts. If parents can expose their children to math in a fun, comforting environment, this can help alleviate math anxiety in school. If using bedtime stories is important to foster a love of reading in children, then the same can definitely be said for using bedtime math.

It’s been a while since I had a bedtime.  Probably even longer since I’ve been read to. But I remember one thing my dad would always do after a story.

“Do you have any questions?” he’d ask.

That tradition stuck around even when he didn’t read to me. I’d shout (I have no manners) “Good night!”, and he’d come upstairs and say, “Good night, Cate. Do you have any questions?”.

Sometimes when I wanted to stay up a little longer, I’d try to think of something to ask. “How do cars work?” “How did you and Mom meet?” And then he’d sit down and talk about it for a while.

My dad is one of those guys who seems to know a little about everything – I’d catch him reading my school textbooks for no reason but curiosity.  I think the reason he kept asking whether there was anything I wanted to know was to try to share that with me.  Not just getting good grades, but wanting to know things.

I don’t know if it took. I mean, if this woman says her love of books comes from bedtime stories, and the linked blogger is trying to make her daughter comfortable with math by bedtime math problems, you’d expect me to become a researcher or scientist from bedtime questions, and I’m not.

It was a great tradition, though, and it was a low-pressure chance to just sit and talk with my dad.

Maybe if I have a daughter I’ll try it with her.


There’s this new idea called the Black Queen Hypothesis I’ve been reading about. It says,

[The Black Queen Hypothesis] predicts that the loss of a costly, leaky function is selectively favored at the individual level and will proceed until the production of public goods is just sufficient to support the equilibrium community; at that point, the benefit of any further loss would be offset by the cost. Evolution in accordance with the BQH thus generates “beneficiaries” of reduced genomic content that are dependent on leaky “helpers,” and it may explain the observed nonuniversality of prototrophy, stress resistance, and other cellular functions in the microbial world.

That was dense, but it makes more sense if you recognize the name. In Hearts, the goal is to avoid having the queen of spades in your hand. Unlike Old Maid, you won’t necessarily lose if you do, but it makes it much harder.

So there’s a condition that has to be met but hard to fulfill. The example here is breaking down peroxide in seawater. It has to happen, just like someone has to have the black queen, but it’s “costly” – it makes the species that does it less able to compete. It’s also “leaky” – as long as the peroxide levels stay down, everyone benefits.

In the beginning, every species will have the break-down-peroxide trait. But once the community is established, losing the trait will improve your ability to compete. Remember, the trait has to be “costly”. So one by one species will lose the trait.

Okay, enough background. Am I the only person who thought this model fits politics really well? I’ve seen libertarians, tea-partiers, and anarchists arguing that functions of the government can be better filled by the private market/NGOs/charities.

Functions like an effective transit system. So this one is definitely costly (US DOT asked for $129b this year). It’s also leaky – once the roads are in place, anyone can use them. Other things like schools, the justice system, and the patent office fit this model too.

So why doesn’t it make sense to let only one entity take on the job? Also bear in mind, this whole thing is only a hypothesis – there’s no proof that it actually happened this way. It’s just a model I think makes sense.

I had a rough week and a gift card to get rid of, so I went on an Amazon shopping spree.

(I’m going to be the proud owner of a Kindle, I’ll review it in two weeks once I get my hands on it.)

But more interesting, I got some special lace weight knitting needles and a few pounds (!) of lace weight yarn. I’m going to see if I can do summer weight knits (think t-shirts). This…is going to take a while.

1. My refrigerator knocks four times.

2. Mr. Suspicious already hates yogurt and apples, and today also turned down beans, bacon, toast, and fish sticks.

3. There’s a glitch in my phone, I get calls that haven’t happened yet (at least according to the time stamp)

4. I spend a lot of time not knowing how I look.

5. After John Carter:

“You watch these things, it’s the same show every time. A … goes to … and saves the girl and the world. It’s like, ‘A Confederate soldier goes to Mars with a thing and saves the girl’. ‘Some kids go to Narnia through a wardrobe and save the world’. I should make one up… Like his name is Billy and he goes to Jupiter and he– and he walks there.”

“Hon, I watch a show where a British alien saves a psychopath archaeologist with the help of Roman Winston Churchill using a magic phone box. You can’t win this one.”


o_O Some people are seriously scary. (Brain bleach may be necessary)

Great piece of fanfic. Harry Potter, if he were twice as smart and a little evil.

Hey! A new Doctor Who companion.

I have one of these, and when I got it I learned how to solve them.  I kept it on my desk.  Then last week, one of the guys at work messed it up on me – and I realized I’d forgotten how to put them back.

Google knows everything, I swear.

There’s a great cheat sheet here. Basically, it asks you questions about where different colors are, and shows you how to put them back one piece at a time.

If you want to try it and don’t have a cube, I like the virtual cubes here. (Make sure you have the latest Java plugin installed first). There’s a couple different color variations too, and 2×2 and 4×4 cubes if you want to be ambitious.

Split Pea Soup

  • 1/2 lb split peas
  • 2 strips bacon (chop raw)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped plus leaves)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • bay leaf
  1. Fill slow cooker with ingredients and top with water
  2. Cook on low for at least 2 hrs, longer is fine

I usually do this one before work, and eat when I get home. That adds up to maybe 10 hours in the pot. So don’t worry about leaving this in too long, I honestly don’t think you can.  On the other hand, it’s fine after 2 hours if you want to make a lunch out of it instead.

The reason the bacon goes in raw is so you can get the bacon grease in the soup. If you want to cook the bacon ahead, save about 1 tbsp of grease. You can cut it down to a half a slice if you’re dieting, but make sure there’s at least some for flavor. Peas are bland.


  • box corn bread mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix ingredients
  2. Pour into well-greased casserole dish
  3. Bake @ 400* for 25 minutes

Okay, so I’m lazy, I used the box mix instead of from scratch. But it still came out good, if crumbly, and since my baking powder is super old it probably was fluffier than scratch cornbread would have been.

Tragic news.

I’m depressed now.

So I was in the car on my way to work this morning (shut up, I’m not a workaholic I’m dedicated). One ad for Chrysler said,

…Everything is [better?] in Los Angeles. Even the weather is held to a higher standard.  So how did a car out of Motor City get its big break? Same way as everyone else – earn it.

Uh, no. I’m not stupid. People in Los Angeles get their break because of good advertising. Which Chrysler obviously knows, because that was an ad.  Situational Irony fail.

When I went to the electronics store, I picked up a few things that I didn’t quite know what they were, just because they looked cool.

[insert picture]

It’s a switch, I can tell that much, but why does it have 6 leads coming out of the back? Which ones connect to what?

[insert picture]

So what I decided to do was run a test.  I don’t want to worry about ungrounded circuits, so I hooked up all the leads to ground, but first going through one of the LEDs to see which ones are active.  I’m going to power each lead one at a time, and see what happens in the on and off position.

[insert picture]

Here are the results:

On Off
Lead 1
Lead 2
Lead 3
Lead 4
Lead 5
Lead 6