December 8th, 2006



A remarkably lurid eastern sky is announcing the approach of the sun right now. The coulds which are expected to bring rain by tomorrow have begun gathering and are reflecting the morning light in such vivid shades of red that it might, but for the clarity of the air, be mistaken for the light of a forest fire. This might be the last day of any appreciable sunshine for a while. The last few bright days have been a nice break from the usual seasonal pattern, but I won't mind getting back to the normal rain. I'll enjoy listening to it.


Afternoon was a soft gray, and the air once again smells damp, though rain has not yet arrived. The crows have spent the brief evening bickering among themselves, but now they and all the other birds have gone off to bed. My cat is napping too, but she has chosen to perch at the end of my desk, right where the mouse pad would go if I had a mouse pad. The optical mouse, fortunately, does not require a large space in which to operate, so the cat's presence is not a problem. It does seem odd though that, after so many years of displaying extreme independence, the cat has lately decided to spend so much time in my company. I wonder what the attraction is. Have I begun to smell like fish?

The clouds have helped to keep the evening air mild, and it may remain pleasant for many hours. The moon being not long past the full, once it has risen there will be that diffuse light which adds so much to my enjoyment of the night. The cat and I will probably be hanging around outdoors for a while. I think I'll wait until the neighbors have let their fires go out and the smell of wood smoke is gone, though, and their holiday lights have been turned off.

Speaking of light, this advance in solar cell design builds cells that can covert more than 40% of the energy in sunlight into electricity, potentially bringing the cost of solar power down to the range of current consumer prices for conventionally generated electricity, about 8-10 cents per KWH. The cells could be in production within a year.