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Horses are meant to have circular irises, ne? I was a little surprised to encounter one that may, apparently, have been a very well disguised goat.

Many people know of Coit Tower, but perhaps fewer know the story of the inspirational Lillie Hitchcock Coit:

She came to this city in 1851 from West Point, where her father had been an army doctor. Seven years later, when only 15 years old, she began her famous career with Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5.

One afternoon that pioneer fire company had a short staff on the ropes as it raced to a fire on Telegraph Hill. Because of the shortage of man power, the engine was falling behind. Oh, humiliating and better was the repartee passed by Manhattan No. 2 and Howard No. 3 as the total eclipse seemed to be but a matter of seconds. Then, suddenly there came a diversion. It was the story of Jeanne d’Arc at Orleans, The Maid of Sargossa and Molly Pitcher of Revolutionary fame all over again.

Pretty and impulsive Lillie Hitchcock, on her way home from school, saw the plight of the Knickerbocker and tossing her books to the ground, ran to a vacant place on the rope. There she exerted her feeble strength and began to pull, at the same time turning her flushed face to the bystanders and crying: “Come on, you men! Everybody pull and we’ll beat ‘em!”

This spirit continued throughout her life. "As Miss Hitchcock became older, she gave up the habit of following the engine, but the tie that bound her to the company was as strong as ever. If any member of a company fell ill, it was Lillie Hitchcock who gladdened the sickroom. And should death call him, she sent a floral tribute as final expression of her regard." No shrinking violet she! She was "smoking cigars and wearing trousers long before it was socially acceptable for women to do so. She was an avid gambler and often dressed like a man in order to gamble in the males-only establishments that dotted North Beach."

A study showing that nearly all mammals take the same amount of time to urinate has been awarded one of the 2015 Ig Nobel prizes at Harvard University. "Using high-speed video analysis, they modelled the fluid dynamics involved in urination and discovered that all mammals weighing more than 3kg empty their bladders over about 21 seconds." In other fascinating research, it appears that if you have appendicitis, you're almost certain to experience discomfort while traveling over a speed bump. (ie if you don't, you're very unlikely to have it; but the presence of such pain can have other causes) Though perhaps my favorite is the study into chicken locomotion, which established that by applying a dinosaur-like weighted tail, its gait becomes dinosaur-like.

Yay, new furry comic! Tangent Valley is coming out as individual pages on the artist's DA page, starting over here, with the protagonist finding himself slurped into a pocket universe, where everyone's slightly altered from before their arrival. Updates are, unfortunately, quite sporadic.

In a welcome move, Lidl's announced they're adopting the Living Wage Foundation's wage recommendations. Should be fun hearing the protests from Tesco and Asda as to why they can't possibly match that, when the most price-conscious of them all is doing so. =:D That'll see their current wages rise from £7.30 to £8.20, and from £8.03 to £9.35 inside London. The Foundation's own minimum recommendations are £7.85 and £9.15, so Lidl's moves reflect a modest bump on top of that. The article also note Sainsbury pay £7.36 (including breaks, which Lidl don't cover; they claim that leaves them comparable), Tesco £7.39 (breaks not covered), Asda £7, and Aldi £8.15. I wonder where Waitrose and Morrison slot into that league..

Any recommendations for US cellco plans? I'm looking at two devices: an iPhone 5s (AT&T model - "GSM/North America" on this page), and an iPad Air. For the phone, I'm after a minimal plan - my current 250 mins/unlimited SMS/250MB is pretty much perfect - I don't use much data on it (but 100MB proved to be a bit confining), but it's sometimes handy to quickly check a bus departure time or browse the Ars Technica forum if I'm just popping into town and have left the iPad behind. (RingPlus' plans look reasonable - "Delight" seems like the best fit for me) For the iPad, I'd want at least 1GB, preferably 2GB. Ah.. nope, what they don't make clear is they only deal with CDMA devices. =:P Aha! Some searching reveals AT&T does still offer GoPhone plans - $25 for 2GB for a month would be fine for the iPad, though for the phone, it'd still be a bit of a smelly choice between $2/day for unlimited voice/text for that day, plus data, or plans at $40-60/mo, for unlimited voice/text, and 1.5GB or unlimited data.

I have seen perhaps the ugliest timepiece to have been created: Star Wars by Devon, yours for only $28,500, in an edition of 500. Truly, aesthetics only a Sith Lord could love.

The iPad has a new comics reader: Electricomics, conceived by folk including Leah and Alan Moore, and Garth Ennis. You can read more on its homepage, and the various linked reviews. It's not intended as merely a reader, however, but also a tool for creating your own comics, and sharing them with other users. Their intent is to release it as open source, once it's adequately mature. An Android version is on the cards.

*sigh* Well, now I pretty much have to work out how to repair t-shirts.. I managed to place a nice little 2" rip in another pony shirt the other day. And yep, that's out of print too. Another favorite, too - Vinyl against a panchromatic spectrogram. ^_^; Thankfully, the damage isn't on the design at all, so it may be recoverable.

Wednesday saw a rare public appearance. =:) It was the wonderful huskyteer's birthday, which she chose to mark with a visit/tour/tasting at the Sipsmith distillery, responsible for some very good gin indeed, along with some other noteworthy examples of the craft, including an absolutely gorgeous sloe gin, and damson vodka. Their tale is quite the miniature saga, as it turned out the last license to distill in London hadn't been issued during anybody's lifetime, some two centuries ago, so the authorities weren't initially quite sure what to do. A crunch factor came when it emerged they'd have to distill some six times more than they were intending, due to one of the old laws on the matter, intended to end the "gin craze" that at one point saw one in four habitable dwellings in London distilling gin, or something claiming to be distantly related to it. A change in the law a few years ago opened up their way, and here you see what produces their wares: Prudence on the left, delivering the initial alcoholic wash, then passed through the tower and into Constance, for the final phase, with Patience on the far side contributing the botanicals.

Prudence, Constance, and Patience: Sipsmith's heart

A glimpse inside Patience, into some of the botanicals that'll be contributing to some fortunate folks' gin

Patience, safely sealed up whilst the maceration continues entirely unhurried
Occasionally i do fancy a lovely gin and tonic with a meal , esp. one of the finer quality gins.
Ah, with a meal? Interesting.. I've always enjoyed it strictly by itself, usually as a G&T of some kind, or with good ginger beer - which cuts the playing field rather drastically, unfortunately. I made the mistake of picking up Canada Dry a couple months back, and haven't finished the bottle yet - just so wishy-washy! Sainsbury's own is.. eh, it works, but it's still not particularly gingery, but at least cheap. Mostly, I just ration out Fever Tree - that's got such a brilliant, natural ginger tang to it, which I find complements even the most humble gin.

One little "trick" (and surely fundamental in tasting, but I am entirely uncultured) I discovered at the tour was taking the snifter of gin, and sampling the aromas at the bottom, then the top of the edge of the glass. It surprised me just how pronounced a difference there was!

Hey ho. Someday, hopefully not too long off, I'll be able to build up a little stock of good gins. (I've thoroughly enjoyed Martin Miller's, which is very smooth indeed - not just the result of careful distillation, but their use of Icelandic water. Which involves the distilled gin first being exported to Iceland, then the diluted gin brought back into the UK, as apparently they'd have to treat the water if they were to simply import that)
Thanks for the great links and commentary as ever!

re: cels... I have tried many plans.. that GoPhone plan you mentioned is a really great bargain indeed! I have one of those (currently inactive at the moment) but I could light it up any time. It's very good though with the limited minutes and data there, I have preferred to go with the sensational new MetroPCS plan of $30 unlimited everything. Years ago they had a $33 similar plan, but then Virgin Mobile offered a smart phone unlimited plan for $35 so I went with that for a couple years. Virgin is a Spring system and it was good ^v^
This new MetroPCS (a T-Mobile system) is better though because it's a smidge cheaper, a FAR better phone, and also 4G vs 3G. p.s. sometimes the phones are free too!!... That part of it varies depending on when people sign up, but at least the vast majority of U.S. plans have the rate stay the same always as long as you stay contiguously signed up.
Good Lux!
Heh! I wonder if I could reactivate my old Spint "Pioneer Plan".. =:) I bought a Sony candybar phone back in San Diego, when Sprint were launching CDMA (why, I still have no idea, given GSM was already out. Maybe just IP matters? That way, Qualcomm had full control over the standard), and they offered a pretty decent pure PAYG offering - something like 10¢/min, no monthly obligation beyond paying for what you'd used.

The tragedy, of course, is CDMA's relatively orphaned now, with only Verizon and Sprint's legacy systems supporting CDMA, and not many other places around the world. I might still be able to fly with it, but I believe it was only with the iPhone 6 that Apple rolled all the LTE/CDMA/ZOMGWTFBBQ standards into a single model. (Weirdly, whilst there are a few iPhone 5s variants, it seems more a matter of different bands and standards being disabled across them, possibly at the behest of the cellcos? Mine's the AT&T version, no CDMA)

Weird. It does seem like Sprint caters really well to VMNOs - maybe it's a segment AT&T's not interested in? I wonder if there are any good VMNOs offering GSM/LTE-based plans? There seem to be a fair few outfits like RingPlus, with plans that match my modest needs. For comparison, GiffGaff's bundles are ideal for me - I usually go with the £7.50 option, which offers way more voice time than I'll use, and enough data for the casual use I make of the phone. (All the heavy lifting's taken care of by the iPad). They also offer PAYG, at quite sane rates - 10p/min for voice, and 20p/day for 20MB data, but even with my light usage, it doesn't tend to work out much cheaper than a bundle, which also keeps things simple, and I am a very simple bunny. =:)

Are you a gin hound, by any chance? Or more of a.. hmm. Bourbon, maybe?
:D That giff gaff site really is quite a selection! *wingfuffles yer fur* ... I had a candy-bar Ericsson and Nokia in years gone by also.. that was on Cingular which was bought by AT&T.
Interestingly 'nuff, Verizon is recognized as the only carrier to work in Yellowstone park :D

..I did notice some commentary re: gin... heh...
I'm really not very deeply into alcoholic tendencies... although if to note any particulars, I'd say Vino of many sorts would be atop the list... ^v^
Lovely photos! And an excellent and gin-filled evening.
Thanks. ^_^ I'm quite pleased with how they turned out, especially given the restrained light. The 10-20mm's perfect for that kind of occasion, where there's a lot you'd like to fit in, but you can't just step back; and the 30mm f/1.4 offers that beautifully shallow DoF, perfect for isolating the subject, however busy may be the background. I did drop Sipsmith a line with a link to my Flickr, plus a link to that photo of our gracious representative. =:)

It was indeed quite a fascinating time, and delicious. =:9 It caught me a bit by surprise just how different the aromas were, from the top and bottom of the glass, tilted. I can definitely see a gin evening coming on someday, when money is once more in evidence, comparing a few good gins side by side.

Definitely a fun evening. ^_^
Count me in :)

When I toured the Plymouth distillery about a decade ago, they had us do an initial sniff then warm the glass in our hands and take another, for a similar effect to putting your nose at the top and bottom of the glass.
Odd coincidence: a friend on twitter just commented how his horses have rectangular-shaped pupils similar to his goats. I think goats' are more prominent, whereas horses' eyes are softer and deeper to gaze upon... ;o)
Ah! So I'm not going mad! Or at least, no more so than I'm aware.

I wonder how common this is? And might we see such mutations skip along to the human genome sometime? (Myself, I'd obviously far sooner see tall ears, or at least, luscious, soft fur)
Horses, goats, sheep, cattle, and deer are among the animals that have oval-shaped irises. I was taught/told that it allows them to have a wider field of vision and (like a cat's vertical pupil) lets in a lot more light at night, which is helpful when you're a prey animal and lots of folks want you on their menu. Since most horses have brown eyes, the pupil isn't really obvious unless you're close up. On wall-eyed (blue eyed) horses it does stand out.
I haven't gone shopping for phone plans in quite some time, but I've been pretty happy with T-mobile for the past several years. I'm on their $30/mo Unlimited (actually: "first 5 GB at 4G speeds, then limited to EDGE speeds") web & text with 100 voice min prepaid plan (and 10¢/min afterwards, I believe). No contract. You can buy prepaid gift cards (sometimes at a discount) to refill your account or let T-mobile automatically charge your credit card. The plan is a bit hidden these days, but happily still available: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/other-prepaid-plans (Note that it's only available online at t-mobile.com and via Walmart)

T-mobile also offers a free (for life, they claim - http://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-reiterates-free-data-for-life-details.htm) 200 MB / month for tablet devices on their network. Beyond that, you can buy 500 MB for $5, 1 GB for $10, 3 GB for $30, etc. I believe it's trivial to buy these one-time or monthly passes - on the iPad, I just go to Settings > Cellular Data > View Account to turn things on or off as desired.
Hm! $30/mo wouldn't be too bad. Much more data than I'd ever need, but it does look like about the best so far. ^_^ (By comparison, I currently usually go with the £7.50 option from GiffGaff)

International calls look insane ($1.99/min!), so I'd just use Skype. Weird that they'd price themselves out of that, unless they're hoping to funnel people into the $10/$15 international add-ons.

Here's hoping I'll be needing to sign up with them in the coming weeks. ^_^

How's it going, anyway? Anything new in the neighborhood? (I did notice plans for a rather neat little plaza, down the road a bit. Probably found that on Hoodline, or maybe SFist)