Extremes of Minnesota Weather

There is no one Minnesota weather.
As I write this, up in Grand Marais (where I stayed for my vacation up the North Shore to Canada), it is currently 34 degrees.
Here in the Twin Cities where I am sitting, it is 90 degrees, and its a few degrees above that down in Mankato and Worthington, toward the bottom end of the state. It touched 100 degrees at Granite Falls.
The air is dry as a bone, or else there would be ferocious storms thanks to this temperature gradient.
Last year, it didn’t hit 90 in the Twin Cities until late June.

The power of post processing

I like the idea of taking images as they are, rather than “doctoring them” to show stuff that isn’t there.
Still, I have been persuaded to experiment a bit with the .RAW format on my DSLR and adjust images in software to sharpen stuff up.
On my recent trip with the Olsons to the Scottish Fair, I set the camera to take “RAW + JPG”, allowing me to have the best of both worlds.
So here is a picture of Dani in a cutout, in the jpg form:
Dani base image
And here she is after I cropped and adjusted and played with the RAW image in DPP and exported it to jpg.
Dani in the Cutout

Royal Mail Stamp Set

Via Neil Gaiman, I discovered the U.K. is issuing a set of six stamps of mythical creatures, with art done by illustrator Dave McKean. (Now you see why Gaiman mentioned it, hmmm?). A Dragon, A Unicorn, a Giant, a Pixie, Faeries, and Mermaids.
These look really well done

If I was a philatelist, I would definitely get myself a set.

Death of the Ash

Via Bob Collins on the MPR Blog Newscut

(Picture by Minnesota Public Radio)

Minnesota has struggled for years to try and stop the spread of the Emerald ash bore, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire,an exotic species which appeared in Michigan in 2002 and has been eating its way outward ever since.In 2003 foresters found the insects in Ohio. The following year ash borers showed up in Indiana. They popped up in Illinois and Maryland in 2006, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007. In 2008 they were detected for the first time in Missouri and Virginia and Wisconsin.
Emerald ash borer starts out as a flat, rust-colored egg, just a smidge bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. A single female will lay 80 or so at a time on the bark of an ash tree in summer.
A lanky white larva emerges, burrows into the bark, and begins eating the living wood. In the process, it cuts off the conduits that carry water and nutrients from roots to leaves and sun-made sugars from leaves to the rest of the tree.
In spring the larva morphs into a pupa. In early summer the pupa develops into an adult beetle. Two to three weeks later, the insect bores out of the bark, leaving a telltale D-shaped escape hole. The emerald-colored adult flies off to mate and begin the cycle again.
Trees can survive for two to three years until borers finally push them past their tipping point. Enough larvae, enough serpentine trails, and the flow of water and nutrients inside the tree is completely severed. Twigs, branches, and ultimately the whole tree die.
And now, although Minnesota has tried for years to slow or stop it, the Emerald Ash bore has appeared inside the state borders.Now that its here, stopping it is virtually impossible.
Unfortunately, Minnesota has a *lot* of Ash trees. They are popular in urban and rural settings alike and many were planted for aesthetic reasons.
The landscape is going to be irreversibly altered by its arrival and not for the better.

Star Wars Prequels–are they really a Reboot?

Here’s some food for thought.
If you have seen the original Star Wars films, and then the prequels, you will undoubtedly notice a lot of things don’t match up. Things Obi Wan and Yoda say don’t jell with what we see in the “new” Episode I-III films.
So, in the wake of the Star Trek reboot–what if the Star Wards Prequels were really re-classified as a not-entirely-successful Reboot of the Star Wars franchise and universe. This would help explain away a lot of differences between the IV-VI films retelling of prior events, and the events as depicted in the I-III films.
What do you think?

Naamah’s Kiss Contest

Are you a fan of Jacqueline Carey?
You will recall I recently had the chance to read and review an ARC of Naamah’s Kiss, the latest Kushiel novel by Jacqueline Carey. I liked it, and I think you will, too.
And here is your chance to find out. Would you like a chance to win a free copy? 5 copies at Hatchett’s warehouse are set aside for me to offer up for this contest.
All you have to do to enter is send me an email to jvstin at gmail.com. Please put your name and mailing address and the subject “Naamah’s Kiss” in the subject line. One entry per person, please.
Oh, and the publisher has asked me to tell you that only US and Canadians are allowed to win. Sorry!
This contest ends on Wednesday, May 27th.