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Saw the word "chatoyance" in the comments to someone else's post, and this came to mind:

Chatoyancy is a form of divination using cats' eyes. Practitioners initially used the eyes of deceased cats. There are some records of chatoyancers killing cats to acquire their eyes, but in fragments of letters from that era, they determined that killing the cat for its eyes ruined the divination. The practice of chatoyancy was initially codified by an unknown author in the now-lost Quod Visus Cattus[1].

Some time before 981, a chatoyancer[2] found that a cats-eye gem worked as a usable if inferior substitute for an actual cat's eye with the notable advantage of not having to find a dead cat first. This discovery caused a schism among chatoyancers, separating those who insisted upon using only true eyes of cats, and those who thought that the gem was acceptable. The latter faction was by far the smaller of the two, as the cost of a suitable gem was often beyond the reach of practitioners. Some letters between practitioners of this period, debating the merits of gems, survive. Many critics denounced the use of chatoyantic techniques on gems as a bastardized form of lithomancy.

A second codification of chatoyancy appeared in or around 1304: Libro Modi Videre Sicut Feles Verax[3]. This codification dismissed all forms of chatoyancy other than those involving the eyes of an actual cat. It is notable in its speculation about the use of the eyes of living cats, which in turn spurred a number of experiments -- all failures -- in the immobilization of cats to use their living eyes for divination. However, practitioners of various other forms of chatoyancy continued divination through their preferred method during this period, though no codification of other forms is known.

Roger Bacon's publication of his Opus Majus in 1267 led to an increasing use of the scientific method. While many disciplines, including chatoyancy, adopted Bacon's methods, improvements in science reduced the need for all forms of divination. Most practitioners of chatoyancy -- and divination in general -- were reduced to essentially parlor magicians. Many charlatans claimed to be able to see the future through various methods, with chatoyancy being one of the more esoteric. While the practice of chatoyancy did not die out in the era of science, fewer and fewer true practitioners could be found.

The salvation of the practice of chatoyancy came from an unexpected source: William Morton's demonstration of the use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846. Further demonstrations of other forms of anesthesia, especially in veterinary medicine, has led to successful demonstrations by modern chatoyancers of the use of the eyes of living -- if anesthetized -- cats for highly accurate divination.

Many recent works on chatoyancy[4] speculate that the reason live, anesthetized cats provide such accurate divination is that the divination operates on the dreams of cats. These speculations have led to various experiments[5] on naturally sleeping cats in an attempt to use their eyes for divination without waking them. While these attempts have so far been unsuccessful, investigation continues.

Today, likely more than half of the veterinary specialists in cats are chatoyancers. The active scientific investigation into the theory and practice of chatoyancy should hone its accuracy in the near future. There are numerous avenues of research in the field for dedicated investigators, and the employment opportunities are predicted to grow at least over the next decade. Chatoyancy is a thriving method of divination with a bright future.

[1] Quod Visus Cattus initially circulated in the area of what is now Switzerland as several copies of a small handwritten manuscript in the early 4th century CE. The last known copy was lost in the great flood of Grenoble in 1219.

[2] Believed to have been the Welsh chatoyancer Dafydd ab Gethen, member of the court of at least Maredudd, and author of the widely discredited De Divinatione Feles Oculos in Varias Incideritis.

[3] The author is not named on any extant copy. However, most known copies of, or references to, the book are found near Buda. The author is suspected to be noted chatoyancer Ilona Budai.

[4] See, for example, Seeing With Cats Eyes by Rumiko Watanabe (Elizabeth Gundersen, translator); Dreams of a Cat by Arthur Jones; and Chatoyantic Inquiries by Giselle Marley and DeShawn Robertson.

[5] Every issue of The Journal of Chatoyancy through #44, except #8 and #21, contains at least one such paper. The publishers dedicated both issues #20 and #38 entirely to experiments on naturally sleeping cats.

This entry was originally posted at http://sauergeek.dreamwidth.org/48106.html.

Beef stew

This particular batch of stew has been one of the best I've made, so here's the recipe from memory. Some parts are, of necessity, vague.

1 small boneless chuck roast (~2.6 lbs), cubed. (Do not trim fat.)
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed.
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into coins.
1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced.
2 cloves garlic, minced.
5 c water
5 beef bouillon cubes
3 bay leaves
1/3 c sherry
2/3 c red wine
thyme (1 T)
rosemary (1/2 T)
savory (1/2 T)
cumin (1 t or less)
celery seed (1 t or less)
black pepper (1 t)
balsamic vinegar (1 t)

Warning: everything from the sherry on down is approximate. The sherry was the end of my bottle; I topped it up to a cup with red wine. Everything else was to taste; the balsamic went in dead last as a necessary correction of seasonings, and was maybe 1 t.

Put everything except the vinegar in a dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for about two hours, stirring every ten minutes or so.

Adjust seasonings to taste; I found a dollop of balsamic vinegar fixed up the flavor balance nicely.

At the end, I covered it and brought it back to a boil, then shut it off and left it sit on the stove overnight. I packed it into containers in the morning once it had mostly cooled.

This entry was originally posted at http://sauergeek.dreamwidth.org/47636.html.

How to de-skunk your... everything?

One useful thing I've found from getting skunked: a workable de-skunkification mix. A chemist came up with the mix based on a liquid filter he used to break down hydrogen sulfide in a waste gas stream. It's a 192:12:1 mix (in my case, 1 cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1/4 teaspoon) of 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid hand soap. See the actual recipe for details and some explanation, and his IFAQs for a more detailed explanation of how the reaction works.

One of the worst-hit things was one of the bike panniers. I went after the pannier with this stuff and a toothbrush, and it slew the stink. (As a control, the bike itself, which I am slowly acquiring the tools to properly dismantle so I can get at all the places that skunk spray got, and which still is not acceptable in company.)

This entry was originally posted at http://sauergeek.dreamwidth.org/47556.html.

The Predictable Incident of the Skunk in the Night-Time

While riding from the train last night
A skunk did I espy.
But far too late did I see him
To stop or 'void his eye.

So he turned 'round quite fast in place
And up his tail did raise --
A sight I hope to never see
In my remaining days.

I put on speed as best I could
I could not stop or swerve
In time to miss impending doom
While coming 'round the curve.

I thought he missed! I kept my pace
Along the avenue.
But when I stopped, a ling'ring smell
Told me his aim was true.

And so I must clean everything
Myself, my bike, my clothes.
I hope that soon I will no more
Offend another's nose.

That way perhaps I'll ride again
Though now with increased dread
And I'll ride slow, to better see
A skunk in flowerbed.

Thermostat settings

The AC at work[1] has public-access thermostats. As I've been thinking about my own carbon footprint lately, I've been paying attention to what those thermostats are set to. They all seem to be set rather cold -- mostly in the 71-73[2] range, but on a few occasions, I've seen as low as 68. I try to keep the one near me at 75, but occasionally people set it lower.

At home, I also have central AC. When I'm not home, it's shut off. When I am home, it's set to 78. If it's cool enough outside, I shut off the AC, open up some windows, and set a fan to try to get air circulating through them.

Do you have an air conditioner? If so, is it central or room? And either way, where do you have the thermostat[3] set?

[1] Nominally central, but in actuality a bunch of separately controlled units with a 40+ year age span.
[2] All temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit. It's what they're all instrumented in, and what I most easily think in.
[3] I'm assuming your room AC, if that's the case, has a thermostat, instead of a "more cool/less cool" control.

December link dump

More tab closing, more tasty links.

The Complete List of American Whiskey Distilleries & Brands, actively maintained by the blog owner. Trying to find US-made and bottled whiskey? This will tell you who's making their own vs. who's bottling someone else's. Informative.

Much more interesting for the list of old spooky radio shows than their particular selection, The 15 Spookiest Episodes of Old Time Horror Radio couldn't help but include probably the most famous one: War Of The Worlds. But it goes on to list a variety of shows. The only one I recognized was Lights Out, which originally broadcast Chicken Heart, since done as a live radio show by the Post-Meridien Radio Players.

A variety of maps of the cosmos across history in Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time in 4,000 Years of Mapping the Universe. While this is ultimately a book review for the book, it has pictures of several of the maps, which are fascinating to look at and to try to derive the level of understanding of the cosmos at the time.

One set of 9 Small Beer Cities That Deserve National Attention. I've been to two of them -- Portland, ME and Burlington, VT -- and if the rest are as good as those two, all nine are worth visiting.

A recipe for Fresh Apple Salsa that I've made several times, and rather enjoy. Mostly here for me, so I don't have to keep searching for it and saying "wait, is this the right one?".

A historic look at wallpaper in New England, with a browsable online archive of their whole collection. Historically interesting, and also a neat source of ideas for decorative patterns.

Another link dump

Once again closing tabs, and finding several that I think will be of interest. Enjoy!

The Rocky Horror Muppet Show. A script for a Muppet/RHPS crossover, with Kermit starring as Dr. Frank N. Frogger. kelkyag had never seen this, so I dug it up. Then I figured some of the rest of you might not have seen it either.

The King In Yellow. HP Lovecraft had his own literary influences, and Robert W. Chambers was one of them. A series of stories by the original creator of the King in Yellow as well as several other aspects of the Cthulhuverse.

A master ice cream recipe (custard, cooked) that also includes several recipes and ideas for how to tweak it. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising.

Photographs of keys can now be used to make duplicates, courtesy of a phone app. One more bit of security to keep track of.

I recently discovered I can't digest raw or lightly cooked onions anymore (onions cooked into oblivion appear to be fine, but I'm still experimenting), so I've had to start looking for onion-free recipes. One tasty recipe I found was an onion-free macaroni salad, which I made several times over the summer. Pancetta (though I've been using prosciutto), fresh thyme and lemon, yum! I leave out the sugar.

Man Constructs 3D Printed Concrete Castle. No explanation needed -- it's exactly what it says on the tin. He first had to build a 3D printer that could print in concrete. Per his website, he's looking for backers for bigger projects.

And finally, a timely link: The 2014 Massachusetts Ballot Questions Explained in Plain English. A short explanation of what each ballot question is asking, with a similarly short set of points on why you might want to vote for or against each.

Apple picking, 18 October

Apple picking tomorrow (18 Oct) morning! kelkyag and I -- and anyone else who wants to come with -- will be going apple picking at Shelburne Farm in Stow. We'll be at the orchard at 11.

This isn't my usual place, but I was in Oregon for that Northern Spy season. Shelburne Farm still has Northern Spy, starting Saturday. They also have a number of other varieites (see the website) and fresh cider donuts.