Sunday, July 27, 2008

I want to be relieved

Ten things I gleaned from the second X-Files film:

  1. Despite a lifetime of medical training, it is legitimate to believe hallucinations can come from Satan.

  2. West Virginia is about 15 minutes from Washington, DC.

  3. When abducting the victim of a motor vehicle accident, it is okay to punch out the side window and drag the victim 100 yards - no one will notice.

  4. Parents' wishes don't matter in the care of a minor child; whatever the attending physician decides is enough.

  5. During a footchase of an elusive, homicidal suspect in an ill-lit, unfamiliar area, keep in touch with your partner by screaming at the top of your voice.

  6. When you work for the FBI, they won't give you a handgun, even if you're a young female living alone in a rural area.

  7. Unless you're an Assistant Director.

  8. Speaking of rural areas, you will find that in West Virginia, dogs are uncommon.

  9. When guarding your evil clinic, plan on having no more than a single attack dog in the pack.

  10. You are advised to hate and fear the Roman Catholic Church, and all the creepy priests, and all her empty promises.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Vitro

I would like to see a chess set with a cell biology theme.

The board would be clear glass, alternately clear and frosted, with shallow wells in each square. You could put liquid or agar gel in the wells if you were really hard-core.

These would be the pieces:

BishopEpithelial cell
PawnStem cell

I think they could be sculpted in the shape of the corresponding cell, and visually the size of the pieces would help clue in the viewer as to the role in gameplay. Or else they could be in little sealed cuvettes shaped like the old Staunton set, etched with the type of cell contained inside. In either case, maybe one side could depict normal cells and the other side would be malignancies.

This is the set that would have worked really well in the Bergman movie.
Image Hosted by
By milkfish at 2008-07-25

Monday, July 21, 2008

Damn near wore out that scroll wheel

Honorable mention is mine.

You will not get the point unless you are aware of this post on Daniel's blog.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The 6.6 Million Dollar Man

Tacked on an additional quarter million.

And now, it is all gone. Back to reality.

Previously here and here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eclipse pies

Rusty Moon
Rusty Moon by scherbi on Zooomr

  1. Print out high resolution pictures of the moon in eclipse using food-grade inkjet ink and edible paper in a Canon or Epson printer.

  2. Apply the illustrations to traditional Moon Pies.

  3. Share with fellow lunatics.

More information on high resolution edible printing here.

Update: A warm welcome goes out to all my visitors from evilmadscientist. I have not pressed forward to make this astronomically themed dessert a reality because I lack the prerequisites, but would love to hear from anyone who has in fact been able to construct this or something similar in reality.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Virtual gains

A while back I posted about how I was entering CNBC's Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge. Now, going into the last week of the competition, it's time to take a look at how well I have been doing.

So you see, all five of my portfolios funded initially with a million dollars of play money are above water, even despite the frightful bear market. A bunch of the bucks on each account were gained by answering trivia questions on the CNBC site, but even taking that into account, all of the five are solidly in the black, though not nearly to the extent of being anywhere near winning one of the prizes. It isn't as if one of the market strategies did a huge amount better than the other, even despite the great differences in maintaining the individual portfolios. I never did come up with the multibagger play in the Earnings reports, even though a few dozen stocks have come and gone through the process. Conversely, there were a few holdings which experienced wrenching falls (the rules of the game do not allow short selling), but there was enough money spread around so that the downside effect was also diluted.

The one addition to the mix of portfolios to round out the five came in late because it was a pure currency trading play, and this capability was not turned on in the contest at the very beginning. 10% of the initial stake was available for trading a number of European, North American, and Asian currencies during hours extended beyond the normal equity market hours.

Next week, all the pretend money goes away. I won't be missing it all that much, though it was fun to have while it lasted.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Synaesthetic dessert

Cuisenaire rods
Cuisenaire rods,
originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.
One is white, two bright red, three lime-green and so on. When I first heard about the synaesthetic association between numerals and colors, something like this came to mind, but it wasn't until later that I could identify the source: Cuisenaire rods. How like a perfectly-trimmed carrot stick the mighty orange Ten looked! The succulent purple grape color of the Four!

I think it might be a nice idea for a primary-school teacher's going-away party to make edible Cuisenaire rods out of agar, fruit juice, and appropriate coloring. Arrange the rods to illustrate mathematical problems, but be prepared for the guests to play with their food afterward.
Has someone already done this? I would like to see how it turned out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Design notes

P A R A N O I D,
originally uploaded by Aphotic Aura.
We were talking at work today in the context of telephone tech support and I came up with the idea of a best practices document entitled The Seven Words You Can't Use in a User Interface. I was thinking of a scenario where the support person would have to tell the user "Now click on the button whose name begins with C. No, the other one."

Not those Seven Words.

Well, maybe.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ascending the Pyrenees

The Tour de France bicycle race begins this Saturday. The first stages will be in Brittany, then through the Massif Central, hitting the Pyrenees around Bastille Day, the Alps a week later and then on to Paris.

My guess is that the fellow pictured here had no performance-enhancing substance coursing through his system except perhaps for a bit of Irouléguy perhaps.