Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reasons to be of good cheer

Back before the big Treo disaster I used to keep a file on my PDA called "Reasons to be of good cheer" which I would update from time to time. I needed it to help during the difficult times encountered during self-employment, to remind me now and then about the little things that would make life worth living.

Now Pam and I are out here outside of San Francisco for a few days of vacation, which is normally a happy kind of thing, but found ourselves dealing with some heavy issues involving some elderly family members, which was starting to lay a bring-down on the two of us. It was cold and drizzly as we drove around searching for a place to have a bit of solace one dinnertime when at length we happened upon the Nayeb Restaurant (aka Luxor) in South San Francisco.

The food was tasty, but that turned out not to be the point, when the background music suddenly was turned up a dozen decibels and the waitress announced the arrival of the Belly Dancer.

The dancer

The young lady had long red hair and was several percent beyond the state of half-nakedness, I would estimate.


She was generous in the way she bestowed her attention to the various tables, and the diners reciprocated in turn, tucking folding currency into the waistband of her garb. I learned that this operation was more difficult than it appeared, both because of the motion of the target and the way acute embarrassment affected performance. Ah well, I did only what was right. (No picture available.)

At last a reason to be of good cheer which I'd completely overlooked: the existence of belly dancing. Surely the only way one could grow tired of belly dancing would be to grow tired of life itself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas eve 2007

The process of producing the Christmas concert and Mass at St. Thérèse's in Cresskill is never quite the same for us. This year, we had our regular keyboard/organ player drop out of action two weeks before the big day due to health problems, our choir director took a bad spill on the ice this last weekend, and a family of our best singers come down with respiratory issues causing them to drop out at the last minute too. But happily we were able to roll with the punches, call in a few favors, and make it all happen again.

And I had a solo!

Choral preludes

  1. Nativity Carol, O’Brien (Erin Calev, soprano, and Colleen Crooker, alto)

  2. Be Born in Us Today, Haas (Rich Magahiz, baritone)

  3. O Little Town of Bethlehem, Redner (Don Mulry, tenor)

  4. Still is the Night, traditional (Choir)

  5. Carols Around and A Round, traditional, arranged by Carl Nygard (Choir)

  6. O Holy Night, Adam (Choir)

Christmas Eve Mass (all pieces performed by full choir)

  1. Entrance: O Come All Ye Faithful, Wade

  2. Gloria: A Christmas Gloria, Gibson

  3. Psalm: A Child is Born, Deiss

  4. Alleluia: Christmas Alleluia, Dean

  5. Offertory: He Shall Be Called, Callaway

  6. Sanctus: Mass of Creation, Haugen

  7. Profession of Faith: Mass of Creation

  8. Amen: Mass of Creation

  9. Lamb of God: Mass of Creation

  10. Communion: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Bach (violin and organ duet)

  11. Recessional: Joy to the World, Händel

And by the end I couldn't hear my own voice, which is as it should be, I guess. I'll have to see whether my digital recorder was able to pick up anything worth listening to.

No cupcakes this year because of time constraints, but I did get to preside over the presentation of our Christmas gifts to our director and to our replacement keyboard player.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'll get right on it too

I just wanted to post this list of top searches at eHow as a sort of time capsule to the archaeologists of the future who might want to know what the average Net-savvy person's concerns were as we come close to the end of the Year of Our Lord 2007.

Though one should be forewarned that certain commercial entities might just have engaged in gaming the list. Just possibly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Honorable once more, owing to my meta strategy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Then as it was, then again it will be

My buddy Shinichi came up with a critical insight just the other day: has anyone noticed that men of music Seiji Ozawa and Jimmy Page are visually to a high degree of approximation the same person? They were born ten years apart, which used to account for a large degree of difference in times past (there were other reasons), but now that they're getting on in years the percentage that that represents is quite modest, bringing out the similarity.

Now I'm wondering whether the two have ever met. Worked together? Has anyone actually seen them in the same room at the same time?

Until now, it appears that this point of correspondence has not been fully appreciated, or else anyone making the observation has refrained from posting the evidence to the World Wide Web.

Update: Removed the link to morphthing which seems to have lost my submission in its database. Here are the original pictures I used:

Monday, December 10, 2007

I've seldom meta caption I couldn't twist into a Star Wars ref

Always pleasant to get some Honorable Mention action at the Anti-Caption Contest.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Baby-shaped bath oil beads

Oily Beads
Oily Beads,
originally uploaded by gorgeosity made flesh.
Yes, little squishy beads in the shape of little babies that you throw into your hot bathwater, just so that you can say that you did in fact just now throw out a couple of babies out with your bathwater, ha-ha. A sure-fire gift idea, not only for Christmas gifts but throughout the year for baby showers, with only one problem: it seems impossible to find the thing ready-made anywhere. On the net I can find heart-shaped beads, duck-shaped beads, rounds and ovals, stars, even bath oil beads shaped like frogs, but not those shaped like infants for some reason.

And that, friends, is why I started this idea blog: so nobody else need ever be disappointed in this way again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'd like to teach the world to whine

We went on a lightning holiday to western Massachusetts and I came back with three tiny little issues to carp about.

  1. Where's my money, Sprint/Nextel? I thought I'd be prudent and rotate out the Sprint phone card that I kept with the jump bag I prepared last summer. The idea was to use it to call my parents in California and avoid the extortionate rates commonly charged by the motel we were staying at. Neither the card nor the folder it was attached to had any date on it, but deep in the fine print was a line about how the card expires "15 months from the date of purchase/activation." When I input the number on the card, a synthesized voice informed me that the account I used was "invalid," so I called up the Customer Service number about this. I was prepared to pay some kind of fee or other in order to recoup some of the minutes I thought I'd bought, or at least be told how I could recharge the thing with more minutes, even at a rate just about as exorbitant as the room phone rate. Instead, I got the voice of a rep nearly as cold as the computer voice, informing me that the number was not in the computer and there was no provision for refund.
    I know the Nextel merger was a costly one, but would it really have been too much to expect them to keep the number on record a month or two longer, if only in hopes of extracting more money out of your consumer? Was it so important to take my $20 and run with it with such unseemly haste? Doesn't it actually make good business sense to put an expiration date on the product if only to encourage a repeat sale when the time draws near? But no, the unfeeling telecom sees fit to do none of these things, and for that they deserve my scorn and rancor, now and for a long time to come.
    In the same vein, only with regard to gift cards, I point out the public service announcement: Don't Give Your Friends Fees this Holiday Season!

  2. We went out to the movies Thanksgiving evening, and as our group could not reach a consensus choice, split according to gender, the ladies seeing the latest Disney movie and us guys opting for medieval fare.
    Please note, kids, the book is different.
    I give the moviemakers credit for including the side stories about Beowulf's swimming-race early on (gory though the depiction of it was), and didn't even find too much to object to with regard to the repurposing of Grendel's mom which made the final climactic battle a struggle between father and son. The thing I did not much care for was the way Zemeckis mistrusted the audience to pick up the bit of foreshadowing regarding the proper way to dispatch a dragon: the B-man is helped out by having the weak spot picked out in vivid color, as if it were made of the stuff of mood rings perhaps, a "plot point" which by all rights ought to have been labeled "break glass in case of dramatic climax," then having the old hero reach in to fool with his offspring's viscera in a way that reminded me to much of this:

    So actually, that part's not like the original poem. But maybe if this does well at the box office, they'll do a cinematic version of The Elder Edda.

    Edited to add: I think this happy fellow has the right idea - don't go into battle with a sword that's too damn short.

  3. I picked up this flyer for a local eating establishment in the motel lobby.

    Whichever you prefer
    Chinese Food to Take Out or Sit In
    Thanks, think I'll pass.

Monday, November 19, 2007

In which I credit my source

My anti-caption contest submission last week was granted Honorable Mention presumably because it is way creepy. Thanks, Matthew!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I play the role of a scab scriptwriter

I think one could replace two, maybe three half-hour comedies (22 minutes each) with a bunch of guys sitting on stools issuing insults at one another. Maybe a little schtick here and there to keep things loose, and a (slightly judgment-impaired) live audience too, not a laugh track. No striking writers to pay, cheap production, and it keeps the people who hate reruns, imported programming, and reality shows off the studios' case.

Because when it comes to studio execs, you know their own stock of creativity reads like an eye chart.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mix 'n match

I think if I were to start a gaming store which included products of a military sort, I could do worse than to name it Rocket Propelled Games.

Alternatively, please enjoy this picture

of a Role-Playing Grenade.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Caution, military-grade earworms ahead

I would love to be able to do a mashup of a 1970's sitcom

with a stately funeral march

just so that it could be titled Marcia Marcia Marcia Funebre.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bridge Crane

Back when I was in experimental physics, they used bridge cranes like this one to stack 25 ton concrete shielding blocks and to position massive dipole magnets.

Bridge Crane
Bridge Crane,
originally uploaded by Echo_29.

It consists of a set of massive box beams that roll on tracks and which themselves support one or more moving trolleys running up and down the beams. I say "they" because of course one had to be a qualified member of a crew to operate one of these behemoths, one person on the floor able to hook and unhook the load communicating to the crane operator up in a mobile cab by means of international hand signals:

They did let us use small cranes to move detector components around a bit, but nothing in the multi-ton scale.

It would be a daring piece of industrial home design to put a bridge crane into a living space. Since the crane itself has to transit along rails, a large open room without interior walls would be optimal. It would be especially useful when one wished to move a grand piano from place to place (say around a sunken living room), though it might be possible to dream up some other use cases. I imagine that one could stack one's Costco purchases on an attractively designed pallet out by the carport, then hoist them up and over to the pantry area (the garbage and recyclables would make the return trip, of course).

Sunday, October 21, 2007


When I saw this, I wondered "Does this wrist belong to a girl named Ester Bond?"


Though I think that if one wished to use a tattoo to cheat on Organic Chemistry exams one might be better off using a programmable one for versatility.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You may groan now

  1. Yet another unclaimed tubey domain name:

  2. If there's a group of psychopathic environmental maniacs looking for a name out there, might we suggest Helter Swelter

  3. I learned that you can request a free personalized phone or email message from Optimus Prime. This gave me the idea to launch a copycat site, where you would receive a phone or email message from the robot's subclinically depressed sibling, Pessimus Secundus.

Cosplay Prime
Cosplay Prime,
originally uploaded by downbeat.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My new album

would be entitled God Saved the Queen and Won a Valuable Prize.

If only I were an English punk rocker thirty years ago.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Grape stomp workout

My latest idea is that a tony spa could make a mark for itself by offering guests the opportunity to crush wine grapes by foot. There's the aerobic benefit for starters, the way in which it encourages good balance, and the health effects of grape extract. I think videos of the spa experience would be a must.

Of couse, participants would have to be warned beforehand of the possible ill effects.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Joyce 40404

I haven't gotten into the Twitter phenomenon because I have not yet figured out why I should care to follow the rambling stream-of-consciousness of someone else, or why anybody would care to follow mine. Then I started to think of someone else has been accused of producing a chaotic flow of images and words - James Joyce - who created a masterpiece of self-absorption in his monumental book Ulysses. Fans of that work yearly commemorate the events depicted there with Bloomsday readings. In a way, blogs and static web content stand in relation to micro-blogs in the same way that traditional short stories and novels stood in relation to Modernist writing. What could be a better subject to take advantage of these ideas than Ulysses in an updated presentation using the wonder of Web 2.0?

Picture this: each of the major characters and a goodly number of the minor ones would be assigned Twitter accounts and those interested in the re-enactment would add them as friends. Early in the morning of June 16th the readers would receive the opening tweets from Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus in the Telemachus episode. Besides their dialogue, they could send out a few links to geotagged images or sound pieces on the Web to further ground the experience. Then they'd follow Stephen and, later, Leopold Bloom around Dublin through their obsessive little observations throughout the day and into the night. Gerty MacDowell would play the key role in Nausikaa (though perhaps not the late Paddy Dignam) and the anonymous narrator of the Cyclops episode too. And of course at the end, Molly Bloom would take charge in the Penelope chapter. Everything would be in real-time and first-person as it should be, and the transcript of the day's worth of transmissions would constitute a record of the event as well.

Those who are not playing parts in the story (the "readers") probably ought to refrain from stepping on the action by sending messages of their own or everything could fall apart. And of course there would be the risk of Twitter's servers possibly not being able to keep up with the heavy load, which would add to the excitement, I think.

If one could pull this off, perhaps the next challenge would be to adapt Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse to the Twitter format, taking the form of messages sent over ten years.

Thumbs up
Thumbs up,
originally uploaded by Wexxie.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Clean house in style

Time to tidy up around the homestead but not sure whether some unexpected company might be stopping by? How about doing it in a $300, dry-clean only, apron?

And a pair of bejewelled rubber gloves to protect your manicure?

(Scary, methinks.) Add a rhinestone do-rag and a four-figure pair of shoes and you should be good to go. Just be careful when you're unclogging that drain.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tiny Ural

I did a search on "Ural" in Flickr and was rewarded beyond all my imagining. Sadly, the domain seems to have been already snapped up.

Ural Dnepr
Ural Dnepr,
originally uploaded by Max le ferrailleur.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rien ne va plus

The game of roulette has been on my mind lately, for no good reason, and I have been thinking of what it would be like to stretch the concept out mathematically by altering the number of pockets the ball could fall into for any given spin.

Roulette Wheel
Roulette Wheel,
originally uploaded by refmo.
Instead of having just 38 pockets, how about increasing it somewhat by replacing the plain old integers with something more transcendental? Of course, you couldn't build a physical wheel with enough pockets to accommodate all the transcendentals (or even the ones over a finite interval of the number line), but notionally you could rig something up which would choose a random real number by spitting out an infinite number of nonrepeating digits after the decimal point, and if it matches the one you had selected in advance, you get to win all of the bets placed. The house would have an edge corresponding to the zero and double-zero slots by taking all bets when a rational number comes up.

For it to be a sensible game of chance, you would want to be tossing your bet in against a pot of transfinite cardinality - either or more bettors placing finite bets, or else a denumerable number of bettors making transfinite bets would do well to make the pastime worth one's while. To keep things moving along, it would be well to have the random number generator spitting out digits at a faster and faster rate so that the process converges in a finite time, and I presume those betting would use similar random digit devices to select their own numbers to bet on as well. Rather than having something with an infinite number of lottery balls to construct their pick, or choosing one of the known transcendentals, or something, that is.

In the happy event that the house pays off on a bet, that person would have the privilege of figuring out what to do with a transfinite amount of winnings in such a way that does not destroy the economic basis of civilization.

At any rate, this scheme seems better than the opposite extreme: a roulette wheel with only a single pocket on it. Ugh, boring. Especially if you are the casino.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Denotatively bankrupt

The other day I went to the bank for some help.

"I have a question about my High Performance Money Market Account," says I.

"Surely, sir, what is the question?"

"I'd like to know why it is that I am getting $0.80 a year in interest when I think I should be making $80 instead."

It turned out not to be a data entry error, as I'd hoped, but a pitiful 0.04% APR for deposits under $5000. And if you want to crack the 1% rate of return, you have to put no less than $10000 into the account.

To her credit, the bank representative agreed with me that the cash might be better off stuffed under a mattress.

This, by me, is a sorry way to use the term High Performance and worthy of being mocked. Here for any marketer with the chutzpah to embrace the notion is my list of that choice of words extended to other areas:

  • High Performance Windows - panes made of opaque black glass in frames that do not open.

  • High Performance Perfume - a small flask of water with a vaguely swampy aroma

  • High Performance Air Conditioning - a damp and stale whisper of air, roughly at ambient temperature

  • High Performance Camouflage - white fabric with black piping

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Some thoughts while sorting my sock drawer

  1. A pair of socks I found in a sort of Paisley motif made me think that someone should produce clothing with actual protista shapes in the design. That way I could be styling at work with a pair of socks with an attractive Naegleria motif.

  2. Instead of video games where young people shoot people up or run them over or whatever, how about a nice sock drawer simulator where you have to pair up the matching patterns as efficiently as possible? There could be some socks with designs not found in real life, such as animated weaves, luminous thread, flaming toes, or whatever the graphic designer dreams up. I think this would be a fine way to inculcate important life skills to the next generation.

  3. I ended up with some leftovers which lost their mates. Thus, "All we like socks have gone astray." (via)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I was wondering how does one say...

pyromania in Greek?

originally uploaded by Darriuss Royce.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Relief President

In the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, it was customary for baseball pitchers to finish all the games they started. Relief pitching was very rare, signalling at the time a mark of failure. In the modern game, teams have moved all the way to a model where a good starting pitcher is expected to put in a good set of innings, perhaps six or seven, but when the pitch count climbs upward of 100 or so to hand the ball over to a lineup of relief pitchers to close out most games.

I propose something similar for the office of the Presidency of the United States.

Now that we have seen that the resignation of the chief executive does not automatically bring with it the downfall of the Republic as a whole, the long-standing reluctance to leave office may be lessened, and calm, rational political thinkers may well want to consider the benefits of ceding power in an orderly way. Maybe the concept of the Vice-President as primarily the one "a heartbeat away" from the highest job in the land could be tweaked to one of a person with the skills to pick up that job in the waning months and weeks of the term and inject a new energy at the time it is most needed. The change at the top would make a generalized turnover of the other key Executive Branch positions at this time a natural thing to do. In situations when the Administration is embroiled with tense negotiations (whether foreign or domestic in nature) could be spiced up with the prospect of having a Presidential switch in order to achieve some kind of strategic advantage, much as when baseball managers switch pitchers to get the kind of matchup they want with the upcoming batters in the lineup. Also, the impact of the handover in power could be parlayed into a partisan advantage if it could be timed for the optimum time in the campaign season for the next term.

The new President would be expected to name a replacement Vice-President who would make sense as the next President in line, in the event that circumstances call for a second change at the top - or a third or fourth, as the case may be. Although the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution makes it impossible for a person to be elected to the Presidency more than twice, it does not appear to forbid a person from ascending to the Presidency more than this through vacancy. Thus, one could imagine a deal whereby the person who was originally President is confirmed as the new Vice-President, ready to step back into power when the time is right for the relief President to stop down, and so on, ad infinitum. (Note that here the baseball analogy breaks down; the rules do not allow a starting pitcher to re-enter a game after having left.)

This kind of scheme would raise the profile of the Vice-Presidency from it traditional low assessment. Perhaps if the expectation that an elected President will ordinarily cede power over to their running mate becomes sufficiently ingrained, one who delays doing so will someday be regarded as distrusting or snubbing their Vice-President, and may well take some damage in the public opinion polls as a result.

As I think of this idea, it seems to me that the trickiest aspect of this scheme would have to do with the lack of anyone fulfilling the role of a baseball team manager when it comes to politics. There really isn't any one person who by Constitutional law has the authority to tell the President that enough is enough and that it is time to withdraw. On the other hand, the nation as a whole might be inspired to take on that function, maybe by expressing their opinion through the press, maybe more formally (by voting?), somehow.

I am not proposing this kind of process at the current moment, since the electorate did not really have this setup in mind as of the time of the last Presidential contest and could not have considered the Vice-President very seriously as likely Presidential material. But I think it is not already too late for this to become part of the deal for the next four years in office.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Spinning screens

By now everyone has seen the Apple ads showing off the iPhone's ability to sense its own orientation and display either in "landscape" or "portrait" mode, right? Well, why couldn't they make regular TV screens do the same thing? They could attach a remotely controlled motor to allow the user to twist the screen 90 degrees, and adjust the picture to suit. Some scenes, after all, work better in that vertical format (see the example), or if one is using the monitor to browse the web, one could accommodate webpages with vertical layouts comfortably as well.

Also, you could watch movies in a super-letterboxed format, with lots of empty space above and below to put lengthy captions.

According to All My Accusers, or A Tawdry Jaunt through the Multiverse: a rap sheet in ten criminal acts.

According to this search on Google, I may have been found guilty of the following:

  1. Contempt of Court and sent to jail for refusing to evict the elderly

  2. Three counts of assault and one count of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse

  3. 7 counts and each involv[ing] one hundred 5 milligram Percocets

  4. breaches of the Publicans Act on 16 August 1839, 27 September 1839, 11 December 1839, 11 February 1840 and 27 March 1840, and of murder and tried at Monmouth Summer Assizes on Wednesday, 18 August 1819

  5. GBH (Gross Bodily Harm?) while staying at a North London hostel for the mentally ill.

  6. not paying taxes on his Survivor winnings and earnings from a Radio show [I] was part of.

  7. a misdemeanor assault charge in the spring

  8. rape in April 1561, a crime that had probably motivated [my] flight to the continent the year before.

  9. killing children [although there seems to be some doubt]

  10. disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.

I reflected on my past yesterday while sitting in traffic court, and have repented of all my misdeeds, vowing to make a fresh start.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The wrath of the thunderer

Friday evening we were heading home from the mall and noticed the atmospheric light show going on to the north. In the less than fifteen minutes it took to reach our place, the flashes of light gave way to torrential rain and hail that flooded some of the low-lying streets around our vehicle. At one point we saw a twin lightning bolt show up starkly against the dark sky, perhaps the one which knocked out the water treatment plant one town over from us in Dumont. The next morning, Pam noticed that the water in the upstairs toilet was silty-looking, and we found a notice up at the gym advising against drinking from the fountains there. Today we, along with over 700000 other people in the region, are under a second day now of a boiled water advisory here. This has us thus contending with cases of bottled water from the store, steaming pots of water on the stove, and stripped-down procedures in the kitchen and bathroom. At the same time, I find that I am having some hearing trouble on the right side which I am attributing to a possible touch of swimmer's ear.

Boiling Water
Boiling Water,
originally uploaded by thirtyframes.

I remember visiting home from college one summer and having to follow special conservation measures because of California's laws during a drought emergency that was in effect. The boiled water advisories feel a little bit like that - nothing very difficult or specially time-consuming, but things that bring one's infrastructure dependence to mind fairly often. Inevitably, thoughts about the vulnerability of infrastructure are also linked in with the recent bridge failure in Minneapolis. I do not believe it is possible to avoid having to trust that other people have taken care of the hazards out there, short of becoming an off-the-grid wilderness survivalist, which I would rather not do at this time.

We have some purification tablets in our emergency kit, but I don't think it will come to raiding them for this rainy day. Actually, when I look out the window right now everything is sunny, though I just noticed a large limb from the neighbor's tree which has come down on the roof of the garage, serving as another memento.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fun with mirrors

Apparently last week there was a flurry of activity concerning hidden messages in Leonardo's painting of the Last Supper.

Now Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist and amateur scholar, says superimposing the "Last Supper" with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure who looks like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.

Well certainly we wouldn't expect any random painting superimposed on its mirror image to show any recognizable shapes. Or would we?

I have included links to depictions of the original art. Click on the images to see a larger version of each.

  • Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgment of Paris.
    Mirrored Judgment of Paris
    Looks like an x-ray radiograph of a spine of a conjoined unpleasantness there in the middle surmounting a mass brown and foul. Overhead, there is a ghostly outline of the head of a bear - to which the twins seem to be paying homage (?). Indications are that a BAD THING is about to occur, definitely.

  • Pablo Picasso's Guernica (though I grabbed the original from another site).

    My gaze is drawn by the light-colored Latin cross just below dead center, then, zooming out, the way the pair of lightbulbs up top assume the place of eyes for a long-snouted animal face. So this we can take to be an indictment of the destructive powers of superego and id respectively.

  • William Blake's Ancient of Days. Ancient of Days, mirrored
    I see a cat's face clearly there, made up of the deity's brow and its mirror, with a backdrop of wings of a huge bird of prey. Something hearkening back to ancient egyptian worship perhaps? I kind of like how the compasses aren't precisely aligned on the centerline of the print.

  • A venereal diptych: Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus (folded along a horizontal axis) and Giorgone's Sleeping Venus
    Birth of Venus, mirrored
    Sleeping Venus, mirrored
    "Double your pleasure, double your fun!"

  • Michelangelo's Last Judgment

    Aaah, it's a giant blue Stormtrooper helmet!!!

If anyone runs with these ideas and gets a thesis out of them, I'd surely like a copy, thanks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My take on the story of the day

Bullfighters are people who fight bulls, right? Well, I think that dogfighters ought to be people who try to take on man's best friend in the ring.

To make it something like a fair fight, the dogfighter should be equipped the same way as his opponent - claws and teeth only. Anything less equitable would seem to me to be cowardly.

Evil dogs.
Evil dogs.,
originally uploaded by This Year's Love.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Accio Cliff Notes

According to Statcounter, over the last several weeks there has been a shift in the nature of search terms used to land on items on my other blog. As you can see from the results from the last 100 searches as of today, over 80% of all search queries are one variation or another on Harry Potter Cliff Notes. Over 60% of my visitors are from the U.S. Yesterday, we tried to see the new film, but it was sold out at the one theater we tried to get into. I expect it will still be possible to go see it in a couple weeks anyhow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A sculpture I want to see

It's Omnia Vincit Armor, in the Smithsonian Archives. Based on the description as "A nude male and female figure, with winged scarab, symbolic of immortality.", I would guess that it doesn't look too much like this modern version.

I think that shirt should come with Kevlar plates attached. It should be quite popular among our troops.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

In every handyman's toolbelt

I'm a little surprised this joke seems not to have been done before.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What to do when encountering snakes on a beach

I would like to promote the adjective laocoonic, meaning one who seldom speaks except to say 'aaah, get them off of me, get them OFF!' Have we not all had days like that?

Laocoon and his Sons
Laocoon and his Sons,
originally uploaded by Schumata.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another stroll down the boulevard of broken hardware

I picked up my Treo last Saturday to find that instead of having its screen in the customary off state it was already turned on, and looking distinctly odd. The camera operation would not work, and a cursory examination indicated that none of the buttons were working quite right. When I had a chance to look at it more closely, I found that it was completely discharged, and plugging it into its charger did not bring things back to life. Ooh, bad news, for aside from being my mobile phone it was the only place I'd recorded a bunch of login passwords for machines I'd been setting up at work over the last several weeks.

We took a trip to the mall to pick up an inexpensive GSM phone from T-Mobile (unactivated), and popping the SIM chip out of the Treo and into the new one was all it took to do a phone account transplant. The new phone is about a quarter the weight of the Treo, and I made sure to purchase a secure case for it, for I blame most of the trouble with the PDA on worn-out Velcro on the flap on its belt case, which would come loose and cause the unit to tumble onto the tiles many more times than I wished.

Back at home where I had access to my small hand tools, it was time to see if anything at all could be pulled off the dead palmtop. I determined that part of the problem with the Treo had something to do with one surface-mount capacitor soldered directly above the power connection which came off - I was able to reattach it with the same conductive ink pen that I'd done my previous bit of Treo surgery with. Then after numerous trials, I found that if I tipped in the battery while holding the sides of the case just so, then plugged in the power connector, I could get it to boot up, then use my one free hand to get into my encrypted password application, then jot down as many of the critical items until my hand would slip and the thing would freeze or die again. Persistence finally paid off and I was able to get all of those off of the Treo before I could no longer pull off the trick of getting it to power up at all. Though I had not by that time retrieved my recent address book entries or memopad entries, it was still a sort of victory.

So while I've long been a champion of the high-end gadget which does everything for you, I'm going to take a different course now and hold off on an electronic organizer for now, relying on this new phone and a low-tech PigPogPDA to hold the many activities which need my attention. I think it will be fine as long as I don't lose either of these items.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Show your axes

People don't know just what to do with the metaphor of the learning curve, speaking of it in such a variety of terms:

Type of learning curveHits in Google (13 June 2007)

I think everyone agrees that the horizontal coordinate is time, but the confusion is whether the vertical coordinate is effort or results. The Wikipedia article suggests that the original sense had to do with the outcome of the learning rather than the difficulty of it, which seems to be the more prevalent interpretation these days. My idea is that anyone throwing around the metaphor ought to provide an actual picture of the curve they have in mind, with labels along the axes, so that the person hearing the phrase knows which sense is intended without having to resort to context.

Monday, June 11, 2007

With this entry, the meme has officially passed its peak


I once was blocked, but now can save

The blogger/Google spam-prevention robots have withdrawn and it's back to blogging as usual. Or, I hope, better than usual.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Locker room talk

originally uploaded by milkfish.
(Composed while locked out of Blogger by the nefarious spam-prevention robots.)

I have been spying on conversations in the men's locker room over the last few months and present these excerpts as close to verbatim as I have been able to record them.

  • 6/5/07 Man those f*cking ridiculous people with their f*cking ellipticals (lipids?)

  • 5/22/07 One man owns a restaurant and works 10am to close 3-4 days a week. Another has a friend with a restaurant, works 12noon to 2am six days a week, no AC in the kitchen with hot ovens.

  • 5/19/07 Incoming phone call regarding an appointment, nature unspecified. “No, it wasn’t for this Saturday…next Friday is okay…do you want us to call?, it’s okay, it’s all part of what we do.” Pause to pull on shorts. “Okay, next Friday. Congratulations on the new baby.”

  • 5/15/07 An account of an accident while stopped at a light, a “lady” rear-ended him while he was taking his kid to school. Noww has to go to the auto body shop.

  • 4/14/07 A fellow talking about one Christmas Eve years ago, when he was called in during a storm which had dropped 8” of slow to operate on a fellow who’d been out riding his bike. Said he’d needed some wine for dinner, and knew he was too drunk to drive to the liquor store. Claimed he wasn’t stupid, spoke six languages. Just before putting him under, told the patient that if he really knew all the languages he claimed, to talk to the Chinese anesthesiologist. A conversation in fluent Mandarin ensued.

  • 4/10/07 A discussion of the old days when the Atlantic City casinos were something special.

  • 4/8/07 With a Tenafly bike-riding club during the warm-weather, which has organized a trip to New Mexico this year as incentive

  • 3/20/07 Bragging that his resting heart rate is 66 “after 20 ounces of Starbucks.”

The robots! ah they are cruel

Robot Attack!
Robot Attack!,
originally uploaded by Dan Coulter.
Day 2 of the lockout by Blogger's spam-prevention robots.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in

I know I have been scarce lately, but I swear it is all for a good reason.

In the middle of April, I received an email out of the blue from a former colleague of mine from when I was working software tech support/quality assurance. It had been at least a year since we'd had contact, and he was checking to see whether he had my correct email address. I wrote back telling him that he'd found me, and that things were still pretty much going the same for me since the last time we'd met.

Turns out that the same was not true for my friend - he'd left the old company to work for a computer startup nearby, and was wondering whether I might want to get together sometime. One thing led to another and when stopped by to visit I found that there was a grand total of three engineers from the old company who, along with an experienced financial expert, had set up the new venture to produce something new in the field of computer datacenter virtualization. They were looking for people who they were comfortable working with and willing to entertain the idea of a little risk to join their startup.

It turns out that although I had been fully planning to keep the franchise running for the remaining two years of my contract, the idea of jumping on board a tech startup was just the kind of chance I was positioned to take right now. Everybody there already wears more than one hat: the roles I was considering in the company include setting up the in-house virtual datacenter, technical documentation, and product release management. There would be some travel, too, plus a few more bucks headed out our way than I have seen for the last three years.

Sure, there's a possibility that things are going to come crashing down in a way reminiscent of the last tech bust six years ago, but in my reckoning it is not far out of line as compared with the chance I would be taking by not changing jobs. Although I am just about certain that I could make a go of my current business, it seems to me that with all things considered, it's better to take heart in hand and to switch. How's that for an idea?

So, I've decided to close down my onsite furniture repair business and am closing out my ongoing commitments to customers. I have already started working part-time at the new place while everything gets sorted out, but hope to begin working full-time by the end of next month. I have been really channeling a large share of my excitement over there the last month or so and I kind of hope to be able to spread some of that around before too long.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It claims to be 70.0513% cacao

I think this chocolate bar shaped- and scented-calculator would be the ideal gift for a Mom who happens to be a CPA, if she happened to like chocolate as well. Less problematic, I believe, than the chocolate covered cherry body spray.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fun with negative numbers

This is a screenshot of part of my browser today after I'd clicked on a message in Yahoo Mail. I am eagerly waiting to see whether when I get a new email, that will bump the total up to "0 unread."

More useful would be to have the Spam folder total reported as an imaginary number.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Or maybe "your hair - it's so awesome."

I do like this guerrilla art item: anonymous plaques in public places. Here are a few other sayings one could put on a plaque.

As you can see, I favor the creepy/morbid angle here.