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Universal Dreams

1 Comment and 11 Shares
"That's ... unsettling." "Yeah, those definitely don't sound like the normal drea– LATITUDE THREE FIVE POINT..."
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rjstegbauer
152 days ago
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I've had the flying dream and exam dream, but not the undiscovered room dream. What's that about?
DrGaellon
152 days ago
Fear of things missed or forgotten
MaryEllenCG
151 days ago
Never had a flying dream or an undiscovered room dream, but I do have recurring dreams about my teeth all falling out.
HarlandCorbin
151 days ago
Used to have the falling dream. Would always wake with a jump when I hit the ground, but I did remember hitting the ground.
rjstegbauer
151 days ago
Why would many people have these common dreams?
duerig
149 days ago
The worst one is the 'dreaming that you woke up, went through your morning routine or did some unpleasant chore' dream. Because inevitably you wake up and realize that you have to do all those things all over again.
MaryEllenCG
149 days ago
Yeah!! I hate those dreams.
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Desert Golfing

2 Comments and 4 Shares
I just want to stay up long enough to watch the ball drop into the hole number 2018.
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rjstegbauer
161 days ago
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I'm wondering if Randall wrote Desert Golf. He should at least get a commission.
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1 public comment
alt_text_bot
168 days ago
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I just want to stay up long enough to watch the ball drop into the hole number 2018.

Seven Years

9 Comments and 34 Shares
[hair in face] "SEVVVENNN YEEEARRRSSS"
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rjstegbauer
186 days ago
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Touching and beautiful! One of your best.
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8 public comments
chrisrosa
184 days ago
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😢
San Francisco, CA
alt_text_bot
186 days ago
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[hair in face] "SEVVVENNN YEEEARRRSSS"
ameel
186 days ago
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<3
Melbourne, Australia
MaryEllenCG
186 days ago
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::sniffle::
Greater Bostonia
kyleniemeyer
186 days ago
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😭
Corvallis, OR
louloupix
187 days ago
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That's why I still watch it..Time to time they deliver...
Celine17
176 days ago
j'ai toujours autant de mal à comprendre la trame...
marcrichter
187 days ago
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Awesome. I'm speechless.
tbd
deezil
187 days ago
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OKAY I'M CRYING AT MY DESK NOW.
Louisville, Kentucky
sfrazer
187 days ago
God damnit, Randal.
deezil
187 days ago
For those that don't know the whole story: Approximately 7 years ago (imagine that) Randall posted this on the blog https://blog.xkcd.com/2010/11/05/submarines/ and made some vague references to tough times in the comics. On in to 2011, he posted this on the blog, and things seemed to be scary but hopeful. https://blog.xkcd.com/2011/06/30/family-illness/ . He's made mention several times about it over the years inside the comics, and I really believe that "Time" was made for some express purpose as to get his emotions out. But this update seriously is making a grown 32 year old man weep openly at his desk (thankfully I have a door that closes), as I always wondered how things were. Things look good, and this makes my heart happy.

Sky Spotters

2 Comments and 9 Shares
Where I live, one of the most common categories of sky object without a weird obsessive spotting community is "lost birthday party balloons," so that might be a good choice—although you risk angering the marine wildlife people, and they have sharks.
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rjstegbauer
228 days ago
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...as long as the sharks don't have lasers, you're relatively safe.
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1 public comment
daanzu_alt_text_bot
214 days ago
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Where I live, one of the most common categories of sky object without a weird obsessive spotting community is "lost birthday party balloons," so that might be a good choice—although you risk angering the marine wildlife people, and they have sharks.

Exploring Boston: Where was the first restaurant in North America?

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I was surprised to learn to that the likely first restaurant in America opened in in 1793 in what is now Boston’s Post Office Square.


I was further surprised to learn that the word “restaurant,” in the sense we now use it, is only a few years older, dating to Paris, 1765. 


Prior to than, a “restaurant” wasn’t a place, but a meal – literally “a food that restores.”

By tradition, the restorative meal was usually some kind of soup –  beef or chicken bouillon with roots and vegetables. (More info via links at the end of this text.)

But in 1765, a Parisian named Boulanger changed that. He owned a traditional bouillons restaurants near the Louvre, and wanted a way to differentiate his shop from others. So, he also began serving more substantial fare, such as leg of lamb. However, in the rigid society of pre-Revolution France, that type of food was supposed to be within the sole preview of the Caterers' Guild. Lawsuits ensued.

But – remember the times – the courts actually ruled in favor of the little guy, Boulanger, allowing him to offer a variety of food to his customers. Thus, his bouillons shop started down the road to something closer to the modern meaning of restaurant.

A few years later, with the French Revolution in full swing, one Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien fled to Boston, bringing this idea of a new-style restaurant with him.

In Boston at that time, for ordinary folk, hot meals outside the home were usually obtained in inns, boarding houses, hotels, and such; or you could buy some food to accompany your ale or wine at the tavern. In any case, patrons generally ate whatever communal/public meal the kitchen currently had on the stove or in the oven. If you didn’t want what the kitchen was already cooking, you went someplace else, or you didn’t eat.

In 1793, when Julien opened “Julien's Restorator” – a restaurant with on-demand kitchen services offering a variety of foods – the idea was so new, he had to describe how it worked in his opening announcement in a Boston newspaper:

“… a Bill of Fare will be kept constantly for exhibition; from which each visitor may command whatever may best suit his appetite.”

The rest of his newspaper ad stressed the healthfulness and economy of his Restorator, including its “suitable nourishment” for the infirm; and appealed to Puritan sensibilities by carefully balancing the offered “excellent wines and cordials” with the promise that “all gaming [is] disallowed;” and of course, “no spirits.”




 A few years later, people knew what the Restorator was, and his ads could focus on the current specials.


 
With that as background, I went looking for the site of the Restorator, originally on “Leverett’s Lane,” a street that no longer exists.

Wikipedia shows what the Restorator looked like, but without any surrounding landmarks or reference points:

I dug further, checking the Boston Public Library (not much info) and the Boston Atheneum which turned out to have, in its collection, an unfinished 1796 watercolor by Daniel Dearborn; it identifies the local buildings including – number 14 on the watercolor – Julien’s Restorator.


"Perspective view on the northward of Mr. Dearborn's School:" (low-res shown: see links at end for full-res version via the Atheneum site.)




Closeup:

Tying to align still-extant buildings with the painting made me think the Restorator – and the vanished Leverett’s Lane – were under what is now the John W. McCormack Post Office and Court House; the looming federal structure that gives Post Office Square its name.

A corroborating fact: In 1825, after changing hands several times, a new building, Julien Hall, was "built on the land where formerly stood the much noted Julien's Restorator." Julien Hall eventually became an auditorium and public meeting space; and later, a gym and several other things, before fading into obscurity.

Julien Hall was indeed on the corner of Milk and Congress Streets; roads that still exist in Boston, and the current location of the McCormack Post Office and Court House.

Combining the current, known landmarks and adjusting for the view in the watercolor, my best guess as to the location of Julien's Restorator is 42°21'25.4"N, 71°03'24.9"W https://tinyurl.com/mvxpyqm

That's here:

Or, zoomed in, about where the red X is here:


Current views: Looking west on Milk Street; the Restorator would have been somewhat towards the back, and under, the massive building on the right side of the street
.









And now you know about as much as I do about what was likely the first restaurant in North America.




Sources:

Julien's Restorator https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julien%27s_Restorator

James C. O’Connell: “Dining Out in Boston: A Culinary History.’’ via the Boston Globe: http://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/article_popover.aspx?guid=cd425c60-b819-466c-bcbc-d59ccb5a81b1#sthash.TrEMKVYm.dpuf

Boson Atheneum’s “Perspective view on the northward of Mr. Dearborn's School.” http://cdm.bostonathenaeum.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15482coll8/id/140

Julien Hall (Boston) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julien_Hall_(Boston)

The Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=restaurant) has more info on the origin of the term “restaurant,” including: “Ever since the Middle Ages the word restaurant had been used to describe any of a variety of rich bouillons made with chicken, beef, roots of one sort or another, onions, herbs, and, according to some recipes, spices, crystallized sugar, toasted bread, barley, butter, and even exotic ingredients such as dried rose petals, Damascus grapes, and amber.”
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rjstegbauer
398 days ago
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Fred, wonderful article! Excellent research on a topic that I never would have thought to ask about. Now the next time I go out, I'll have some trivia.
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Electrofishing for Whales

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Electrofishing for Whales

I used to work on a fisheries crew where we would use an electro-fisher backpack to momentarily stun small fish (30 - 100 mm length) so we could scoop them up with nets to identify and measure them. The larger fish tended to be stunned for slightly longer because of their larger surface area but I don't imagine this relationship would be maintained for very large animals. Could you electrofish for a blue whale? At what voltage would you have have to set the e-fisher?

—Madeline Cooper

So you want to give endangered whales powerful electric shocks. Great! I'm happy to help. This is definitely a very normal thing to want to do.

There are various electrofishing setups, but they all operate on the same general principle: An electric current flows through the water, and also through any fish that happen to be in the water. The electric current, through a few different physical effects, draws the fish toward one of the electrodes and/or stuns them.

For a long time, people didn't really notice that electrofishing injured fish at all. For the most part, stunned fish seemed to be fine after a few minutes. However, they frequently suffer from internal damage which isn't obvious from the outside. The electric current causes involuntary muscle spasms, which can fracture the fish's vertebrae. As this paper shows, these kinds of spinal injuries are more common and severe in larger fish.

As you mention, for a given electrofishing setup, larger fish are usually more affected than smaller ones.[1]This can lead to larger fish being overrepresented in sampling studies. Why? Well, we don't know. In their comprehensive 2003 study Immobilization Thresholds of Electrofishing Relative to Fish Size, biologists Chad Dolan and Steve Miranda modeled the way electric currents stun fish of different sizes, but caution that "no adequate conceptual system exists to explain the effects of size on electroshock thresholds from the perspective of electric fields."

None of these studies dealt with animals anywhere near the size of whales. The largest fish in Dolan and Miranda's study were still quite small. This experiment tested larger fish up to 80cm long,[2]The fish they used in the experiment grew rapidly to a range of sizes, mainly because the larger ones kept eating their smaller siblings. but nothing whale-sized.[3]There's been at least one case of dolphin death linked to illegal electrofishing. Since we don't know exactly why larger fish respond differently, it's hard to confidently extrapolate.

Fish are typically[4]Actual quote from that paper: "The results for these tests were unsettling ... this observation was so unexpected that we stopped the experiment to recalibrate the equipment." stunned by equipment delivering about 100 µW of power per cm3 of body volume, so for a whale, that would be about 20 megawatts.

But there's a catch: Most electrofishing is done in fresh water. Unfortunately, blue whales live in the ocean,[5]I mean, unfortunately for Madeline. It's fortunate for the whales. where the salt water conducts electricity much more easily. That might seem like good news for our electrofishing plans, but it turns out to make it much more challenging.

Electrofishing works best when the water and the target animals are about equally conductive. In highly conductive saltwater, most of the current flows past the animals in the water rather than through them. This means that ocean electrofishing requires much more power. Using our simple extrapolation, instead of 20 megawatts, we might need a gigawatt. In other words, you'll need to bring a large nuclear generating station.

Simple extrapolation is misleading here, since we know that large animals respond to electricity differently. How differently? Well, according to an electrofishing.net post by Jan Dean, a human who fell into the water in front of a typical electrofishing boat could easily die.[6]While it sounds dangerous, people aren't often killed during electrofishing accidents. The 2000 EPA report "New Perspectives in Electrofishing" comments that "In the United States, since World War II, only about five electrocutions during electrofishing have been documented." I assume they just mean records weren't kept before World War II, but it's technically possible that the war involved so many electrofishing deaths that they need to exclude it from the stats. Blue whales, which are even larger than humans,[citation needed] would presumably fare even worse.

Electrofishing temporarily stops a fish's heart.[7]Until reading this paper, I didn't know clove oil was used as a fish anesthetic. You learn something new every day! The fish seem to recover, most of the time, but humans—and probably whales—have a harder time with cardiac arrest.

It's possible that giving blue whales massive electrical shocks isn't as good an idea as it sounded at first.

That's not to say there's no place in science for giving random electric shocks to large aquatic animals. A project at the Denver Wildlife Research Center used electrofishing-style equipment—linked to an infrared camera—to repel beavers, ducks, and geese from selected areas. Apparently, the results were "encouraging."[8]The equipment kept the beavers away, although they returned as soon as it was turned off. It also worked on ducks and geese, although they had some problems with infrared waterfowl detection. The birds would usually take flight when the equipment turned on, although if it was cold enough, they'd just sluggishly paddle away.

So electrofishing equipment probably can't help you catch blue whales. However, if you're having trouble keeping them out of your backyard pond ...

... it's possible the Denver Wildlife Research Center can help you out.

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rjstegbauer
466 days ago
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Before reading this I didn't know that "electrofishing" was a thing!
rraszews
465 days ago
I'm amazed he didn't find an excuse to get explosive fishing involved in the article.
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2 public comments
ridingsloth
318 days ago
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Testing
rclatterbuck
318 days ago
Your test worked? Or maybe it didn't? What were you testing again?
ridingsloth
318 days ago
Integration to slack :)
jk014755
463 days ago
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It is opening new perspective ideas.
Edinburgh, Scotland
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