Seeing as it has been a relative while since I last posted anything, this post is going to be a jumble. I've had plenty of ideas for posts, but the time to sit down and write has escaped me.

The first major problem was a flea infestation. The source of the problem was the front bathroom, where hoards of fleas were getting trapped in the tub and living short hungry lives. They didn't all get trapped in the tub, however, and we were suffering for it. On the upside, we got pretty good at flea catching. So, we sprayed and we vacuumed and we sprayed some more. I'm now happy to report that I haven't seen a single flea since Sunday, though, we're still playing it cautious, and I haven't really been in the front bathroom much either. (Last time I went in, there were very few live fleas.) My bites have been healing nicely.

The drivers for the flea infestation seem to be two-fold. First, we had a possum living under the bathroom (and perhaps dying there). Second, humidity has been up. Apparently fleas need a minimum humidity level of 70% to really do well. (Below 50% and they're in real trouble.) I now understand why we never had flea problems in the desert.

The possums were hanging around because Sassy's food was available. Sassy, however, has not been seen in weeks, so we have stopped making the food available, and I haven't seen a possum in about a week.

Another busy point is my front yard. I've been diligently watering it and spraying herbicide on anything green that appears. It seemed a pretty endless effort until about today. It has been a few days since I last sprayed, and normally, I would expect to see the yard speckled green, but instead greenery has remained all but undetectable. I'll spray down what I can find tomorrow, but I'm really pleased at the progress.

Our garden has seen better days. A few days ago I noticed a couple of mounds in the garden area. I suspected gopher at first, but upon closer inspection, the ant activity, placement, and shape of the mounds led me to conclude that ants were responsible, which didn't really worry me that much. Nevertheless, the plants were looking a little wilty. "Probably just getting near the end of life", I thought.

On Wednesday, we had a neighbor in the ward over for dinner. Upon seeing the mounds his first thought too was gophers. I explained my ant theory, but he said that ants didn't make mounds like that. I replied that they surely did, but since my experience was only with ants in other areas, and since the plants were looking like the weren't getting enough nutrition, I began to believe I had a gopher.

The next day, I disconnected my hose from the drip system and set the little drip timer to "On" so that I could flush out the gopher... but nothing happened.

That's when I made an important discovery. Someone had turned off the water. We figure it was probably Ephraim, but who really knows. The main thing was... we now knew what was wrong with our plants.

So, do we have a gopher, or is it ants? I still don't know. I haven't seen any mounds suddenly appear indicating a gopher. I haven't seen any stalks chewed through.

I've been having regular lessons with Ephraim lately. I decided that to make any progress on reading, he needed to get his vowel sounds down better, and now he seems to know those for the most part. He also seems to know the difference between a letter and a word rather solidly, so that when I ask him what the word is and point to the letters, he sounds them all out rather than just picking one. Still, it's pretty slow going.

A couple of good sites I stumbled upon:
Linguistic Puzzles - Challenging and fun puzzles for the linguistically inclined.

OK... the other article is now demanding registration, which is pretty lame. (The paper was originally written in 2006... did my stumbling it have that great an effect on its popularity?) It's a scientific paper which describes a kind of pseudo-faster-than-light effect in certain materials. It was highly sensationalized in the science news pieces I read, but when it comes down to it, it seems the pulse is simply being deformed. The author himself clarifies that no information travels faster than light, and having read the paper, I agree, but still people seem to be making a big deal about it. (Actually, I have my doubts that any light is actually traveling faster than light. I think there are some obvious questions they not only failed to address, but failed to ask in the conclusion, where one typically speculates on interesting follow-up research.) Nevertheless, I mention it because it's interesting to me. I saw some very similar deformations in my simulations of similar gaussian pulses traveling in the heliosheath and it gives me pause. (We were attempting to replicate unexpected observations by Voyager 1. I don't really think our results were very interesting for that purpose.)

Anyhow, that's a jumbled summary.