Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Writing to God

These are pretty cool. There are obviously some pretty neat kids out there.

It's Never A Good Sign...

...when the dentist tells you that this will be an interesting case to write up.

So, the plan is that tomorrow morning I will have the carefully-recemented on bridge pulled off, and a very talented guy will do some surgery to the roots of four teeth. Then I get to go around for about seven days looking toothless and goofy (though, surprisingly, no one commented on that when I was in at the office this morning). Fortunately, three or four of those days, I'll be at home.

Some time in the middle of the week I get a 'flipper', which is a set of fake teeth that are attached to a bridge. I wear that for the vacation (could be worse!) and when I come back, we do more surgery for two implants (which are way expensive; that high-end coverage is about to pay off, I think), wait about three months for it to heal, wearing the flipper the whole time, and then have a new bridge attached to the implants. At which point I should be able to bite through steel.

I have a feeling this would be a good summer to go on a diet!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Still A Mutant, But...

...I feel a little better. Partially, that's because I've been lying here, reading His Majesty's Dragon, which is a fairly peaceful book for all that its about the British Aerial dragon corp of the 1700's. Partially, it's because I haven't looked in a mirror lately. Partially because what's done is done; tomorrow I get to find out what its going to take to repair (I'm assuming that it is repairable), and how long it will take. I'm still mulling over not going to Arizona, which might be selfish of me, but.... And partially its due to my daughter, who has been obviously distressed by how I look, and by how I obviously feel about it. Oddly, having such a great kid worried about me makes me want to cheer her up, so I am slightly cheerier. For a mutant, anyway.

Not at all looking forward to the dentist visit tomorrow, though. As I told my daughter, its not a question of whether they'll give me good news or bad; its a question of how much bad news it will be. What I hope for is that it can be repaired in less than two weeks, and that I can get a substitute in my mouth during that time. What I expect is that it will take longer than two weeks, and that I might be able to get a substitute in about a week. Whats possible is that it will take substantially longer than two weeks, and that part of that will include either dentures or a dental implant or two.... which will likely have to happen sequentially.

Sure am glad I have that expensive dental insurance. Wonder what the maximum payout is?

Call Me? Maybe...

This website lets you register for the Do Not Call directory, as well as check whether a given phone number is registered. It also tells you when the registration expires.

Most Distressing

This afternoon, the other part of my bridge broke off. It's possible that it took a section of tooth with it. I now have, essentially, no teeth along the upper center section of my mouth. I sound like a feeble old man, I look like a hillbilly hick, and, although it is not my fault, I feel like a fool. I have proposed that I just let my wife and daughter go to Arizona without me, because I don't want to talk to anyone, sounding and looking like this.

I feel like an idiot.

Haiku Computer Error Messages

These, and others, were found here. (I've altered a couple, inscrutably.)

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Seeing my great fault
Through darkening blue windows
I begin again
- - - - - - - - - - - -
A file that big?
It might have been useful.
But now it is gone.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Server's swift response
Not quick enough for browser.
Timed out, plum blossom.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Login incorrect.
Only perfect spellers
shall enter this system.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless others exist
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Yesterday it worked
Today it is serene
Windows is like that
- - - - - - - - - - - -
You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
That page is not here.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But never will we.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cooking Site, Mais Oui?

I've seen a number of cooking sites, but none quite as whimsical as this.


I recently saw an article which posited that political borders may eventually become a non-issue, and that nations will become amorphous trading conglomerates which shift and alter over time.

I'm intruiged by that thought.


This afternoon, my wife and I took a drive. Just the two of us. We didn't go anyplace special -- stopped at a roadside stand to buy some fresh strawberries, but mostly just drove around, talking and looking at the scenery. We talked about politics (I said that I cannot stand Howard Dean; to me, he is the physical manifestation of the lack of thought in the Democratic party) and businesses - she told me about a plan to change the structure of her company which is, shall we say, not meeting with a great deal of grunt-level enthusiasm. We speculated over what might be going into a massive area that we think used to have a racetrack. She told me about a book she was reading, and I told her about a book I was reading. And we kicked around some ideas about things to do with the house, or whether we'd go for a nice car or a Nice Car when we get rid of the Buick sedan. The whole ride was just desultory conversation with the person I like best in the world. It was pretty cool.

Getting a Job

It should all work this way.


To the people who stop, even briefly, today to think of what the day memorializes:

Thank you



It's Memorial Day -- a fine, sunny day. We've been collectively up since about a quarter to seven -- that would be me, then my daughter about twenty minutes later, and my wife a half hour after that. In a little while, they're going out to a fabric store to get material with which to do a sewing project. I know that sewing is frequently part of a girl's life, but I'm still surprised that people can take cloth and make clothing out of it. I'm glad she can. My wife says that when she was a kid, it was common for her and her sisters to sew -- partially out of necessity, and partially because her parents worked in a dress factory and knew a lot about it. (That whole generation seems to have had an ability to move easily between disparate mileus that I wish I had. Her father worked in the dress factory until he and a brother decided to open a restaurant -- and so they did, successfully, for decades.)

I woke intermittantly during the night, thinking about this dental problem. To my mild delight, the adhesive I applied yesterday hasn't given way, though I think it will today. I've had occasion to use things like this in the past, and it seems that their forecasts of how long the stuff will work are usually vastly overstated. I foresee a week of not eating much, and that, mostly soft things. Could be worse.

I read an article today from the weekend paper about the divergent styles of the characters in comic books these days. The one that got me was Batwoman, who I remember as a fairly useless add-on to the Batman and Robin series (the article mentions her in roughly the same breath as other add-ons such as Bat-Mite and such). Apparently, she's changed -- the description says "In her latest incarnation, Batwoman is a wealthy, buxom lipstick lesbian...." I know most of those words, but I don't know what a 'lipstick lesbian' is. (I'm sure that Google would be glad to enlighten me.) She used to look as if she were going to a fancy-dress masquerade ball. Here's what she looks like now.
I don't believe I'd want to mess with her.

Speaking of images, this one caught my eye -- an ad that the New York Times presented on my way into the article. I could be reading too much into it (it's an ad for Ford, incidentally), but what it says to me is that girls can be both casual and smart. I don't see enough of that.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Old Movie

This movie was apparently made five years ago, but it is still quite relevant.


I don't know, at the moment, if the company to whom I sent my resume will want to fly me out to their offices for an interview. At a guess, I'd say its about 55 percent likely that they will, or odds-on. The funny thing is, I'm not sure that I want to leave where I am now.

Part of that is the dental thing I've mentioned. I would very much like them -- or their insurance, rather -- to pay for whatever of it that they can. (And have you ever known a doctor or dentist who actually charged what insurance companies consider 'Usual, Customary, and Reasonable'? ) I have the financial resources to be able to handle that myself, if need be, but I'd rather not.

And since the audit nonsense is dying down a bit, its not quite as onerous a place as it was. Still not delightful, in that regard, but not quite as much 'I think I'm going to scream' as it was, a few weeks ago.

Financially, it'd be better to stay, too. In fact, I mused once that if this other company paid me half again as much as I'm making now, and asked me to travel two weeks a month, I'd probably say no. Truth is, I like it at home. I don't so much want to travel as want to have traveled. And the prospect of the surly service that US (and others?) air carriers are specializing in fills me with dismay.

But the biggest thing is that I don't want to leave the software project undone. I know its very complicated, and I know that there is much anguish still to come in it, in areas which I don't even suspect -- but it has actually begun to work, in a very small way. I don't want to bail out on it until it actually is working. It may be the last big thing I ever work on, and I'd like to get it done. Or at least to a point where it was clear that it worked. (Personally, I don't think its going to make all that much difference to the way that this account operates. It should, but I doubt that it will.)

So thats what I'm thinking about, when I'm not in dental denial.


Today was going reasonably well.

And then the bridge which had seemed a bit loose two days ago came out.

Not completely, though. Only about two thirds of it.

Well, there's about four hours of dental stuff, as a minimum, that I wasn't planning on.

The neat part is that I got to read up on a technique called implants and bridges, which sounds good. Except for the part about how long it takes to do. We're talking months.

Did I mention we're going on vacation in two weeks? And then again in August?

My, oh, my.

I've got it somewhat-cemented in, at the moment. Lets hope they can glue this back in for at least a couple of months. September works much better for me, all things considered.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I just came in from doing the second pass of mowing. We have to do it in two passes because the mower, which is a cordless electric one, doesn't hold enough charge to do the whole lot. It said it would do a third of an acre, but our take is that this is a third of a flat acre that's been recently mowed, and you've got the mower set at high elevation. But thats okay, in a way, because it effectively means that we don't spend more than 35-40 minutes at a throw doing this. I'm not one to enjoy that sort of thing. Thoughts of 'we should pave this' and 'wouldn't a pool look good right here' and 'what is overgrown, anyway?' drift through my mind pretty quickly.

But now its done, so I won't have to do it again for four or five days.

We did some things today that we wanted to -- went out to the used bookstore, which incidentally delighted my daughter, who found about five books that she wanted in the five ten minutes; when she found that they were about fifty cents each, she was thrilled. And we went to a high-end cooking store, mostly just to poke around. They have nice things, and I almost always say Gee, that would be nice to have - and then I look at the price and carefully put it back. Not much there is in my range, but its fun to look at -- sort of like looking at the physical manifestation of recipes. Speaking of which, after dinner, my wife is going out to pull some weeds, and I'm going to try my hand at that pizza dough recipe. (Sage, call ahead next time you're in the vicinity and we can make one together.But be warned -- I'm a pretty plain thinker when it comes to pizza -- about as laden as my pizza will get is pepperoni and pineapple, and occasionally black olives. I am not a California Pizza Kitchen kind of guy -- no ham, no anchovies, no any of the hundred and four other toppings they have. Plain, thats my motto.)

Rach, I haven't read yet, but I'm hoping to do some with dinner. I did pick up a book at the used bookstore -- a novel by Allen Drury. I know now that he isn't a 'great' writer, but thats okay -- I don't want great writers, I want comfortable ones, and AD is comfortable to me -- reading him reminds me of the days when I thought that national politics was predominantly peopled by men and women of integrity and intelligence, and the good guys nearly always won. Would that it were so now.

I've been having some dental problems -- a bridge that I'd had put in about four years ago feels a bit loose, so that I get a slight ka-click feeling when I bite down. I need to have someone look at that. I've thought for years that I have dentures in my future, and now I find that its possible to have dental implants put in to anchor a bridge. I'm going to see if thats possible. I'm sure it will be way expensive, which is why I should look into it now --before my Big Company high-option dental insurance runs out.

But right now, I think I'll just slouch down and read a bit.


Three Day Weekend -- a phrase redolent with possibility. Even though I know that at the end of it I'll be a bit amazed -- is that all I did? -- it still sounds like an eternity. I believe I'll learn French, reshingle the house, arrange my CDs by type and name, hang those curtains I meant to hang, cook some breakfast, and read the book I bought last night. And then this afternoon, I'll.....

Okay, I started the book. And the sausage is cooking, and the coffee is brewing. I tend to be fairly precise about how we make coffee, but lately we've gotten uneven results -- sometimes too strong, sometimes too weak. Not sure why. The good news is, we have divergent tastes in coffee intensity, so one of us, at least, will likely be happy. And the waffles are baking, too.

In about an hour, I'll make the first pass at mowing the lawn. An article I found said that you ought not to mow until the grass is looking a bit parched (I'm not exactly sure what that means; I have a vision of little green faces mouthing 'water, water'), on the principle that this forces the grass to get deeper, and therefore stronger, roots. It also says to mow 'high', the principle there being that the weeds get sustenance from the top of the plant, whereas the grass gets it from the middle of the plant; hence (in their great phrase), when you mow, you are giving the grass a trim and you're lopping off the head of the weed. Also, this lets the grass grow higher, shading the weed, thus depriving it of sunlight and growth. Personally, I don't know about any of that, but the idea of mowing so that the grass is a bit shaggy sounds right to me. I can't explain why, it just does.

I did some web searching (is there any other way to search? have libraries and knowledgeable librarians gone out of existence? Surely not) on the topic of making text searchable, aka 'what do you do with a pdf document'. I was thinking specifically of the search style where you say 'give me this word if it appears within x positions of one of these other words', and that made me realize that I am mixing two concepts -- physical style and search style -- so I wondered if PDF documents, which are, after all, still a file, not something magical (hmmm...wonder what would happen if you tried to open one with a text editor?) can be searched used that technique? I know, this is trivial stuff for people who understand it, but for me, its kind of interesting.

Another thing I'm going to try to do is make some pizza dough. I mentioned that reference in 101 Cookbooks the other day; today, I will try it. Won't try to bake the pizza today, but simply assemble the ingredients and mix the dough, then let it sit for a couple of days. I was a little surprised, when I went to the site, to find that they were having server problems which prevented me from pulling up the recipe -- I always assume that of course the net is always available -- fortunately, the old standby, Google, had captured the page (the search phrase was 'reinhart' and 'pizza dough') so now I have it.


Heisenberg was driving down the Autobahn whereupon he was pulled over by a policeman. The policeman asked, "Do you know how fast you were going back there? Heisenberg replied, "No, but I know where I am."

from here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Interesting Problem

I read somewhere that if you present most people with a picture of a room with a painting that's obviously crooked on the wall, and a chair near the painting, they will imagine themselves moving the chair over and straightening the painting. I know I did, when I saw the picture.

So what comes to mind when you see this?

(Incidentally, I found the picture in a collection of similar ones, here.)

2001 Architecture

This is one of my favorite stills from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Don't know why -- it just appeals to me.

Lazy Day

Not lazy as in lie on the hammock swaying softly in the gentle breeze, listening to the creaking of the supports, occasionally sipping a bit of wine or just listening to the drone of the cicadas, but lazy as in I know I have things to do, I just don't want to do them. Not a deep down serious verging on sloth laziness....but not all that far away, either.

Its a cold, somewhat clammy day here, and I don't have a lot of motivation. Most of what I did have, I used up either going through emails and handling them (well, okay, about half of them) or looking at a performance problem, trying to understand what the heck was going on. I never did figure it out -- the job just ended by itself -- and that always irritates me. Its not that I have any good reason to expect that I'll see something magical -- I'm not that good at it -- its just that I do expect it, anyway. So when I don't, and therefore can't solve the problem, I feel like a chump. How smart can I be if I can't even figure out a simple problem like.... and so forth. So put together, I used up pretty much all of the motivation I woke up with. I did make chocolate chip pancakes that turned out okay, which is about all my achievements thus far.

I thought I'd do some baking, but the motivation slump is even affecting that. I told my wife that I might make some cookies, and she told me that one of the guys she works with likes the cookies I make, which made me feel odd. They're nothing special, and although they are okay, I would not go out of my way for them. So I thought maybe I would bake some bread, or maybe some pizza dough -- this description, from 101 Cookbooks, fascinates me -- but I couldn't work up the umph to do that. I even turned the oven on to pre-heat, but thats as far as I got. Really should go turn it off.

Lazy day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Governmental News

I think its funny that the person whom NPR scrounged up to talk about the FBI raid on a Congressman's office found it difficult to make a succinct statement of the principles behind the separation of powers concept. That speaks volumes to me about why laywers -- at least, high profile ones who've been graduated from Harvard -- tend to be morally ambiguous. I also think its funny that the legislators rose en masse, briefly united against the FBI, and claiming that the raid was a contravention of those powers. It clearly wasn't -- and what they were really afraid of, I think, was : who's next?

Also, the Veterans Administration head got beaten up by members of Congress for an identity information breach; one said that if the VA head truly took personal responsibility, he'd resign. Funny, I thought that taking responsibility meant saying that it was your fault that the event occurred, and taking action to fix it. Then again, for some congressmen, resigning would BE the fix.....


I feel badly for Ken Lay. Not too bad for Skilling, and not nearly as bad for either as I do for the people who trusted them and who were screwed out of their financial future. But to say that this sends a clear warning to potential white collar criminals -- I think the only thing that would do that is mass jailings, in bulk and frequently. Which I strongly doubt will happen. So long as there is easy money to be had, there will be people who take it.


I've probably mentioned this movie before, but it's still a pleasure to see. And it would be wonderful if it really did encapsulate the Honda experience. Even better if it encapsulated the experience of a US car company's product.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blind Kids

I just came back from an end-of-year celebration that my wife's scout troop held. Its a very small troop, which means they get to hold their celebrations in very small places. This was in a local business that sells tea and pastries. The pastries were good, if a bit more refined than I like. The tea was - - different. But what I found myself thinking about was blind kids.

One of the kids in the troop is blind -- or , just about nearly. I think she can see, a little, but I know she's legally blind. She's a nice enough kid now. Two or three years ago, it was not uncommon to go to my daughters school and hear this kid screaming loudly because things were not going her way. She would frequently have to spend time in a timeout chair in the hall, and since she was blind, they usually had a teacher with her. But now she's pretty much over it. She does wheedle a fair amount, though, when she wants her mother to do something. All kids do, but most stop after a couple of minutes. She doesn't - she'll go on for five or ten minutes at a throw. As a result ( I assume) her mother cuts her no slack. Part of that, I think, is 'being a mother' -- I know that I'll cut my daughter slack more often than my wife will. But I wonder if some of it might not be because the kid wheedles, and her mother has adopted the attitude that if she cuts the kid a break, its going to somehow get magnified -- that the kid will get the feeling that of course she's due this break, because, you know, she's blind. So the mother just doesn't even start.

I don't know, and I didn't ask. But I wondered.

Seeking Knowledge

I was just thinking, idly, once again, about PDF documents and how difficult they can be to use. Since I always assume that there is someone who can speak authoritatively about anything (and I mean accurately, too, not just full of blithe self assurance and dismissive hand-waves), I wondered: who can tell me what, if anything, is known about the best kind of text organization for different kinds of use -- research, study, reading, note-taking. Surely there must be some idea. But who would know?



Well, I had the telephone interview with the company, and it was a bit of a strange experience. The phone connection wasn't too good == it almost sounded like a moving cellphone == so that was a bit of an impediment. The conversation started well but seemed to stall when I said that I wasn't willing to move to Nevada or California. But we kept talking, and I kept telling them stories about things that I've done (only afterward did I realize that every one of the stories was making a point). After a while things seemed to open up. They flat-out said that they do not have openings in the group I'm looking at, but they were expecting some sudden increases in the amount of things that group does, so possibly something would open up. While on the one hand it would have been nice if they'd been overwhelmed, it was a generally positive experience. Just doing it was fun -- I'm not a very adventurous person, so actually talking to someone about changing jobs was a bit of an adventure in itself.

Just before they called, I received a cheerful automated call from Dell informing me that it would be at least two weeks until they shipped that camera I bought. They offered to refund my money but I think I'll take the chance and hang loose, as the price I paid was low enough so that the extra memory card -- which arrived yesterday -- was essentially free. If I were the power negotiator that I read about, I'd be able to call them and get something out of this delay -- but I won't.

Today I get to go in, talk about audit stuff, and do some more on that product I've been working on. The rosy glow from last Friday has pretty much faded -- though I am bringing one of those roses my wife gave me in to the office -- but I'm still in an optimistic mood about it. Amazing what a success will do for you.

I've been reading the War book I have mentioned over on the sidebar. It's interesting stuff, though I have a real problem accepting its basic premise, which is that you should always be on guard and ready to attack. The parts I like talk about strategies used by various people in difficult situations, some military, some not, and those are pretty interesting. I haven't read much more in the dragon book -- I like it, and its well written, but its kind of a rainy-day book, for a period when you can settle down and submerge yourself in a book. Haven't had much time like that lately.

And so the day begins!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I love good outdoor photography -- photographs that are not only attractive, but have almost a texture. This one, which I found here, is an example.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This isn't the President

...but like the web site owner and the kids who wrote the material, I wish it was. Have a listen....

Interesting Site

The site is called Hatebook, and its a series of people speaking anonymously about what they hate. Some of it is trivial (to me) but some is quite moving, such as this:

i hate society and the way it makes you feel. i hate how no one believes that they are truly beautiful..they think that they're so flawed, i hate it. you're not fat or ugly. whoever you are, wherever you are, i want you to know that i'm here for you and i would care if you were gone. there's so much out there, go find it. everythings worth it, trust me. you are beautiful and intelligent and don't let anyone tell you differently. i hate how our parents put us down and make us fell horrible for our actions. i hate how they are only spreading thier negativity to us. don't let anything get you down. never live the same day twice. try everthing. be happy. because it's all so fast. make it last. i hate how so few realize that.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

News Display

This is an image that appears here. Its a real-time news display. I wish I knew how it was done. I gather it's got something to do with RSS, and I would bet its in Java (just because so much cool stuff is in Java), but past that I know nothing. Wish I did. I like it.

S 3 4 Me? 4 Sure!

Digital Photography Review has a massive review of the Canon S3. I'm definitely going to get it. Especially since we're going to Arizona in about 3 weeks (can't wait!). That's going to be so cool.

Along the way, it mentions needing a big honkin' SD card if you're going to do video. I don't know what an SD card is, but I'm guessing memory. I had heard that for any digital camera you want to get additional memory -- just to have it, and because many cameras come with the minimum, just to keep the price down. All I have to do now is find out what I need and where to get it.

But the camera itself, abbasolootly.


Just ordered it, along with a 2 Gig SD card. Hot Diggety!

Endothermic Cardiacization

That's my try at 'heart warming'. As you can see, I don't do heartwarming very well.

These guys don't usually, either. But this time....

Blowing My Own Horn

I just wanted to mention it again, because it still makes me slightly giddy. ( I almost wrote Slightly Diggy. That, too.)

My Omegamon install works!!!

Still way at the beginning, yabidity yada yada, but still: I worked and worked and worked and now it FREAKIN WORKS!!!!

I was so wired on Friday I could not even THINK about what I might want to do next in this project, I've spent so much psychic energy just trying to get to this point. I'm not quite so wired now. Not quite.

Thank you.

How Much Is Enough?

The answer, if you're talking about retirement, is clearly: more than you have. No matter what you have. There's probably a point where you can't possibly contemplate spending all that you have, barring a) a switch to a hedonistic life style (hmm.....) or massive medical bills (huh....) but for people like me, that point is right out there with the likelihood of winning the Nobel Prize for Cookie Making. (Those cookies I said I'd make? Not bad.) Basically, no matter what you have, there will be someone to say that that's not nearly enough, unless you're planning on living a miserly existence in a trailer out west. And not where Rockford lived, either.

The spark for these thoughts is, as it so frequently is, an article on retirement planning. It makes good points, including a couple I hadn't thought of, contemplation of which makes my head hurt (Evaluate the taxing structure of potential retirement locations?), but it also has this :

If further evidence were needed that $1 million isn't what it used to be, a survey by the Spectrem Group consulting firm refers to those with $100,000 to $1 million in "investable assets" as merely the "mass affluent." Because investable assets account for 22 percent of these folks' total assets, many have substantially more than $1 million total. Spectrem found that when their residences are included, these people have 37 percent of their wealth in real estate, putting them "at significant risk" in a real estate market collapse.

Sheesh !

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I don't know much about The Next Great Thing -- I thought it'd be something to do with health care records, and maybe it is -- but this site, for a service called Sphere, which is about finding articles of interest in blogs, sounds intruiging.


I'm not much of a cook, but I like recipes. I've noticed that I tend to gravitate to dessert recipes, which frequently sound good to me just reading through them -- its almost as if I can taste the mmmmmm through reading about what goes into it and how you put it together. I'll even read those articles about 'secret recipes' even though I really don't care how the 'secret batter' for Kentucky Friend Chicken or whatnot is made. It just sounds good. As for my own stuff, the recipes that I'll make are usually not complex; about as challenging a recipe as I will try is normally something that involves melting chocolate over here while something is getting ground up in the food processor over there. I recently found a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that sounds suspiciously like the one in the classic Neiman-Marcus cookie story, but this one has cinnamon and lemon juice along with the oatmeal and other ingredients; I'm hoping to try it tomorrow. Tonight, though, was a fool.

Now a fool, as you may know, is a cold dessert made of whipped cream and fruit puree. My daughter had some as part of a cooking class (ahem: Family and Consumer Science), and she liked it enough to write down the recipe and bring it home. It looked good, and she was really excited about making it, so this morning, we added a lime and a mango to our normal shopping list, and this afternoon, she and my wife made it. While the making was a bit stormy -- she hadn't written in anything about merging the cream and the pureed fruit, and my wife insisted that it must happen or the dessert would be in two parts -- it mostly went well, and after dinner (an excellent chicken and sausage cacciatore; thats one of those meals that I cringe, thinking about, and really like when it arrives; I've told my wife that if she is planning on making that, just ignore any comments I make before the event) she and my wife brought the fool out -- a large, creamy, pudding like bowlful.

Did you know that mangos are very stringy?

Star Wars (Compressed)

If you don't have the time to view the entire original Star Wars, this might be place to get an acceptable substitute.

Tim Tams Plus

In passing -- Tim Tams with chiles?

Thinking about Condi

I don't know if its driven by the approaching mid-term elections, but I think there is a rising tide of negative commentary about Bush's performance. I'm a little surprised by that, because, although I am not a fan of his, I don't think he's gotten appreciably worse. His appointment of the former television newsman to be his official spokesman is no more egregious than the person he selected for FEMA, after all. He isn't pushing faith-based initiatives any more (though I think the concept is still in use), and he hasn't offered more tax cuts while spending more. Granted, his comments about immigration open up a new area of discussion, but they are not, per se, worse than anything he's said about other areas. I'm not proud of him, or even pleased with him, but I've gotten the attitude that he's the town fool, so what can you expect? At least he's lowered the bar for what someone has to do in order to look like a viable candidate.

But what does surprise me is when I read people sliming Condoleeza Rice.

I know very little about her, but what I do know, I like. I think she's bright and energetic. She seems to come with an attitude that she can improve things, and that she can make a difference. Even when she is talking about areas that are historically intransigent, she sounds optimistic.

I know she's not perfect. I accept that her primary qualification for selection was that she was standing next to Bush when he had to choose someone, and we all know what proximity to him means in terms of who he'll even consider. And the reason she was standing next to him is that she is part of his coterie, outside of which he doesn't like to search. But even given that, she's not a bad choice. He could have done worse -- and for George, that's like doing exceptionally well.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Giddy, Part Two

My wife brought home, for me, one dozen long stemmed red roses.

To congratulate me for my success today.

Oh, my.

What Can You Do...

with a round-faced Japanese kid?


Not Funny. Nope, Not At All. Move Along, Now.

Okay, I totally acknowledge that this is an inappropriate use of the movie medium and is extremely not funny.


I am Not A Giddy Guy. I can't recall ever being giddy. Even when I flew upside down in a T-38 at about 350 miles per hour, I wasn't giddy.

Today, I am giddy.

Because today -- for the first time since I began trying in September of last year -- the product that I've been trying to install actually made the connection from my PC to the mainframe, and the mainframe actually delivered a display back to me.

It's an empty display, and I don't understand just about all of it, but that's okay. Because it worked.


(This wonderful image was found here.)

I'll Post This Tomorrow

While surfing, I came across this 'Anti-Procrastination Plan' web page from the University of Texas at Austin. The material is about as cogent and coherent a summary of the concept as I've seen. (I asked them for permission to extract and post it here, but they demurred, saying that they didn't know me or what I would do with it. Guess I can't blame them for their caution. )

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I Blogged That !!!

I've been looking at a lot more web pages lately, courtesy of StumbleUpon. In addition to being amazed at the breadth of material thats out there, and how good much of it is, I noticed that I tend to shy away from many blogs. Which I think is a little surprising, for obvious reasons. I'm not, after all, a great writer, and it would be odd if the reason I shyed away from blogs were because I didn't like the caliber of what was there. And while sometimes the content seems a little strange, I don't reject a blog for that. (I may not go back, but I don't lunge for the button to show me another site.) I realized after a while that the one thing that can make me leave is this: if the person, referring to earlier writings, says that 'this is something I blogged about'. That phrase rubs me the wrong way -- it doesn't sound right to my ear. I have roughly the same reaction to the word 'disrespect' when its used as a verb. It just doesn't sound right. In fact, every so often I'll stop and try to figure out why that word, in that context sounds wrong to me, and I've come to the conclusion, such as it is, that the reason is the same for that and for 'blogged' -- it sounds self consciously coy. Its a way of saying See, I'm hip, cool, with it, fly -- or whatever the current phrase is for being au courant. Which I believe is a kind of cheese Danish, right?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Border Patrol

I was dismayed to hear of the suggestion that the National Guard be used to patrol the border. A national Guard source said that they were ready to do so, which I was surprised to hear (I put it to a zealous higher-up); my wife pointed out that if this was an alternative to being in Iraq or Afghanistan, it might look quite good. Hadn't thought of it that way.

It would be interesting to see a map (were it possible to create one) of the flow of illegal immigration and how it percolates through the United States. I envision a dark smudge near the Arizona and Texas borders (for some reason, California doesn't seem likely in that role) as well as the New York, Michigan, and Washington State borders. In my guess, the effect of the immigration then trails down, sometimes skipping large areas, and puddling in major cities. I don't 'see' much in the center of the country.

Assuming thats true, or close to it, then that would mean that the primary cost of dealing with this would lie with the states where there is a port of entry, or a high resident alien population. But what about the flip side? If there is a benefit to having illegals here, as some have said, is it concentrated in the same areas? And is it proportal to the cost, or less, or greater?

I know I don't like the image of my country keeping people out at gun point, and I don't like the image of us demonizing people from one country. But I also don't like the image of us having to house and feed people who could not get that from their country of origin (or perhaps not get it as easily).

I need to think about this some more.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


This is clearly an Unquestionable Waster of Time.

It's fun, too.

Tepid Tuesday

We're all moving a bit slowly today -- possibly in contemplating of how long the day will be. This evening, you see, we have a Concert at my daughter's school, and while attendance isn't mandatory, it might as well be. Don't get me wrong -- I do like those events, its just that they seem to drag on for a long, long time. And then right after that we're bringing the van over to a car dealership -- its getting inspected tomorrow, plus one of the side view mirrors is getting replaced (I managed to whack it backing out of the garage, much to my surprise). So it's going to be a long day.

My daughter told us that she needed an excuse note for her absence last week, when we kept her home at the recommendation of the doctor who called, surprised, to say that she had strep. This is bureaucracy at its finest -- we said she was staying home, we're writing the note. Where's the value in that? I suppose I ought to be careful about saying this -- they might say 'you're right; from now on, excusal notes can only come from medical people'. My job has a rule that if you're out more than 3 days, they want a note from a doctor. I told my wife that that's insane. If I ever get to the point of needing one, I won't do it. They can fire me (it'd make a dandy court case, I think, were I a litigious person).

Time to go.

Monday, May 15, 2006


My daughter doesn't like to write as much as I do. We share a lot of things, but enjoyment of the writing experience isn't one of them. She's been popping in here, the last few minutes, asking me to critique a writeup she's doing on a book. The book happens to be Cinderella, and its obvious to her that I think she's way-underpowering on this, both the selection of the book and the writeup. Just for grins, I wrote the following and said 'Try this'.

Cinderella. Everybody knows her story. Poor little girl, tough stepmother, evil stepsisters. Godmother, coach, ball, midnight, shoe, happily every after. Yadda yadda yadda. But do you really know Cinderella? Do you know what her nickname was, before she was called that? Do you know how the pumpkin actually got turned into a coach, or, for that matter, what the lizards had to do with it? Or why her father never stuck up for her? How about the stepmother's name, or what the coach seat felt like, or whether it really even was glass in that slipper? Do you? Do you know?

You don't know Cinderella -- at all.

She nodded, smiled, and left. And, of course, blew it off. (sigh)

I should be working

but instead I'm sluffing off - - reclining at my ease, munching some Nature's Promise Golden Tortilla Chips (quite good), and leafing through the net. Here's an interesting site -- They Rule. It's an interactive mapping site that shows how companies, and their directors, are interlinked. I would imagine its particularly useful for conspiracy theorists, but I like it just because I like the use of the Flash technology to do the displays.


I have seen some interesting articles about politics lately -- specifically, about the Democrats. They are both encouraging and not so encouraging.

The encouraging news has two parts. First, the possibility is growing stronger that the Democrats will do well in the upcoming midterm elections. This is not certain, or even likely, but it is possible, and more so by the day. Second, there have been articles wherein people have expressed both scorn and dismay at the notion offered by some Democrats that if they do so well as to gain control of one or the other houses of Congress, then they should embark on a campaign of retribution and investigation (which I take to mean not real investigation, but investigation as retribution). Those who have come out against it have made the point that not only is it inherently a bad idea, but the sight of a Democrat merely suggesting the possibility is a decent way of scuttling the Democrats chances in November.

The discouraging news is that this being politics, there are people who are playing politics with the whole idea of winning in November. Specifically, some people are saying that it might be better politically for the Democrats were they to almost but not quite win either or both houses. The logic is that then the Republicans would still be in control, and could therefore continue to be held responsible for problems, so that come the presidential elections, their ignominy would be enormous if the problems continued, and the likelihood of the presidential elections going Democratic would therefore be greater. They also suggest that if the Democrats do win one or both houses, but just barely, then the Republicans would become the finger pointers, able to limit the Democrats abilities to enact change while still being able to say that as the Democrats are in charge, all problems are their fault; therefore, they should go for either a massive win or a near-win.

I am amazed and dismayed by that logic. It is the logic of shyster lawyers and of losers. It is the logic of National Politicians -- and I've already made my feelings known about that breed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nil Valore

These guys are totally without redeeming social value. I think they're great.

The Graying Work Force

Some interesting articles in the Sunday Times.

One, of interest for obvious reasons, detailed the general idea that as people in my generation begin to plan to retire, many of them are doing it with the assumption that they'll continue to work through retirement. This means that they'll work less hours at what they're doing, or that they'll switch careers and work at something brand new. These are people who are doing it to supplement their retirement savings, so that they do not draw down on them until they are truly retired (interesting logical conundrum, there). Some of them do it because they enjoy what they do, and want to continue, but at a reduced pace. And some are doing it as an opportunity to branch out and do things that won't pay as well, but which they've found worthy of their time. None of these people have to work, per se; they choose to. I'd like to think I fall into that category; the truth is, if I retired in two years, I would, and if I retired tomorrow, I wouldn't without more attention to finances than we normally give. But if you recall my comments about daydreams -- could I do this, could I do that -- and I do truly appreciate the supportive comments about those dreams -- you can easily see how the two might dovetail together.

They also fit with comments in the article to the effect that 'some' companies are beginning to restructure their work environment to deal with people with these attitudes. It was careful to point out that such enlightened self interest is rare, but it is coming. And that tied in with some thoughts I've had, which is: if you assume that more companies -- even big ones like the one I work for or the one my wife works for -- are going to have to restructure to face the graying of their workforce, and the difficulty of replacing that workforce (we both work in the computer services industry, but the mainframe part, and thats not particularly sexy), then a reasonably intelligent person ought to be able to make plans now to be in a position to benefit from their requirements in ten years. The question is, what will those requirements be? Because, absolutely, they won't be the kind of thing that gets written up in Fast Company as The New Gray Workforce -- that would be the sort of article where they talk about how wonderfully responsive and flexible and understanding companies now are, when in fact very few will be. There are certainly a couple of companies who can be described that way, but its a funny thing -- you only hear of them in Fast Company! Rather, the requirements are the kind of thing that will be written up in CIO magazine with titles like Lessening the Impact of the Departing Gray Worker. Because when those problems are laid out, fixing them is where, I think, the opportunities will be. I think.

I wish I was better at thinking this sort of thing through.

Later: I googled 'graying work force' and found this. None of the other articles say much more -- gee, when these people leave, its going to be a problem; gee, there goes your process knowledge, skills, and intellectual capital; gee, if your customers have a relationship with someone who's retiring, that could be a problem. Clearly, no one has given this much detailed thought (well, no one that I could find in thirty intensive seconds of looking. ) But heck -- its a start.

Interesting T Shirt

The logo says : Republicans For Voldemort.


I think mother's day is silly (so is father's day), but I like the idea of appreciating the efforts and involvement of people in the lives of children. So on behalf of that sentiment, and not the Hallmark company: Happy Mother's Day !

The best Mother's Day reference I've seen in the last twenty four hours: a T shirt with a flowery design and the text: I'm a GOOD distinct from Shaft, who is a BAD mother.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rembrandt Lighting

I believe that's what the style of lighting in this photograph, which I found at, is called. But whatever the name, it's powerfully and effectively done.

It's a Big Ad

I'm not a beer drinker, as I've mentioned. And I'm not a video freak. But this ad, for Carlton Beer, almost makes me one of each.


I was just leafing through some web sites when I came across one that was a summary of commentary about world events. The style was sober and unprovocative. The header said that the site was " trusted, unbiased source on technology, business, law, science, and culture that’s authored by leading commentators and thinkers in their respective fields". I started reading one of the articles, and then I thought: In a world wherein seems that everyone spins the news, is anyone 'trusted and unbiased'? Of the cuff, the only one I could think of was the Christian Science Monitor, whose web sites I read on occasion. And I guess even they aren't totally unbiased. Yet I do believe what they say -- I don't get the feeling that they slant what they write. Whereas if I were to read something by an organization that's strongly conservative (and yes, the phrase 'rabidly conservative' was what first came to mind) I find myself shaking my head, skimming as I wonder how anyone can believe that stuff. It's the same news as presented in the CSM -- and yet its not. So does that mean that, like the filtration of light, we regard people as unbiased if their bias is in line with our own, but biased if its not?

Probably not an original thought.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Broke Back to the Future

Doc Brown never talked about this before !

Guns: An American Delight

In Virginia, a cop was killed the other day.

She was killed leaving the police station, in their parking lot. She and other cops were ambushed by a man who had escaped from a group home. He had with him a hunting rifle and an M16. After killing her, and wounding other cops, he was finally killed.

Is there any carnage so great, so hideous, that we will finally recognize the insanity of letting people have easy access to powerful weapons? At what point do we say enough?


When I was a kid, I used to believe that if you had the characteristics of someone who was successful, then you would be successful. I don't mean characteristics of the type found in self-help books, I mean the kind that are really incidental. For example, I was impressed with people who could take notes really fast. I thought that if I took notes really fast, I would be more capable as a student. So I would -- only my notes were just random scribbles on the page -- they looked like hieroglyphics. And I KNEW this wasn't good enough-- but still, I thought, hey, my notetaking sounds just like the note taking of people who are good at it, so therefore I am good at it. I know, I know -- but thats what I thought.

I still have some of that attitude in me. I still can read a book where someone can do something I cannot, and wish I could, and for just a short period I find myself thinking well, maybe I can do that. Doesn't matter if its in any way realistic, I think that. Read about someone who built their own house? Hey, maybe I could do that. Someone who taught themselves French? Hey, maybe I could do that. Attend medical school, be a helicopter pilot, learn to debug networks, cook a great meal, become a sterling portrait photographer? Hey...

I feel silly once I come back down after these flights of fancy -- I think they're ways of avoiding reality -- but even then, I wonder: Could I?


Only a genius could say this stuff:

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted? (And) if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?

It's never just a game when you're winning.

Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.

When someone asks you, A penny for your thoughts, and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bulking Up

Every so often we do something that makes a lot of sense to me, so much so that I wonder why its not routinely done. And then I realize that not only is it routinely done, its a come and gone fad. I might as well be remarking about the prevalence of electrical traffic lights.

We have some spotlights in the kitchen. When they were put in, during the great kitchen remodel, we replaced the halogen lights with regular spotlight bulbs, because it was so bright in there that we felt as if we could have done surgery. In the years since then, either the lights have gotten dimmer, or -- hmm. Best not to pursue that line of thought. Anyway, we've gone back to halogen bulbs. We particularly like the Philips brand, and of those, the style that's called 'long neck'. We can usually find them only in one specific store, and only on occasion. Not that they don't have bulbs -- they have hundreds, perhaps thousands - just not always those bulbs. So about six months ago, I had a Thought. We did a web search for that specific type of bulb, found a store that would send us about twenty at once, and ordered them.

We haven't had to search for them since. And I just replaced a bulb with as much effort and angst as turning on the water faucet. Which is good, as my angst-meter's been running a little hot lately.

Now, this doesn't really explain why, when I could no longer find Sweet N' Low liquid in a local store, and so bought a case (25 bottles), that I haven't yet opened even the first. I don't care. Its still a Good Idea.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The End.

What else can I say? Look for yourself.... and please turn off your PC when you are done.

Being Met

My daughter has a habit of meeting me in the garage when I arrive. She's learned that if I just sit there for a couple of seconds after arrival, she probably shouldn't bound up to me, but otherwise, sure. Sometimes she will walk in, and sometimes she'll ride her scooter in and do little arabesques in the empty part of the garage. This afternoon, she walked in, met me, and asked if she could help carry my stuff upstairs. As she was picking up the laptop, she said that she wanted me to know that she had tried hard, and that a lof ot it was due to some material that was turned in late, but that this could be partially corrected. This announcement immediately triggered a klaxon in the parental alert system, and it was, regrettably justified. She'd gotten an abysmal grade in one subject. We talked, I said the expected Good Parent things... but inside, it was a different story.

This was, overall, a strange day. It started with an odd dream -- not of escape, this time -- in fact, I'm not sure what it was about, as the only thing I could remember of it upon awakening was the word 'supernode'. That's not in my common lexicon; though its etymology is pretty obvious, I looked it up on Google and found that it is a phrase referring (among other things) to a master node in file-sharing systems such as KaZaa. I don't use them, or anything like them, so I am stumped as to why I should recall it. Breakfast was uneventful. Work -- well, work was pretty stressful, but in fact it was SO stressful that at the end of the day I had achieved a sort of nirvana. I simply didn't care, at that point. Fire me or knight me, its all the same. It was a very odd feeling. And you know about the arrival home.

Tonight we're having pizza -- pepperoni and pineapple, one of my personal comfort foods.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I'd just like to point out Class Factotum, one of the blogs I list in the left column. It's really worth reading. She's consistantly interesting, insightful, and funny.

Another good blog is The Cheerful Oncologist. I know -- Cheerful? Oncologist? Yeah. I still don't want to ever see him professionally, but he's worth your time. He's got a nice style.

Juvenile Delight

Last night, we made a cake. As it needed to be chilled for two hours to set the frosting, I agreed to the offspring's request that we have a piece at breakfast.

As she was preparing to leave for school, our doctor's office called with the results of the long-term strep culture she took last week. She's got it, and they say she's probably contagious. Well, heck, she was in school all week, anyone who would be infected likely already is, but what the heck, we told her she could stay home today.

She leapt to her feet, shouted 'Chocolate cake for breakfast, now I get the day off, don't you wish you were ME?'

Actually, yes.

Monday, May 08, 2006


It's misting, just a bit, outside. Other than that this is the classic 'oh, damn, it's Monday' weather, it has a new meaning for me. For the first time in a while, I find myself thinking 'what will this do to my plan for mowing today?' Hardly the stuff of great drama, but unusual, nonetheless. I shall have to get into the habit of looking at the weather forecast.

It would not be as big a deal if I were working from home -- I'd probably go out and hack at the lawn from time to time -- but as it happens I am going into the office today. I have a major change, about which I am moderately apprehensive, but the really big deal is that I am going to find out if the release of Java that I put onto my work laptop will allow me to connect to one of the systems. Up to now, I have not successfully done it. This is two or three major reworks of the application install, and four or five major redos of the Java installation, so I am not sanguine about it working. I simply want to scrunch up my eyes really tight and clench my fists and hope like hell that it works. In about 90 minutes, I'll know.

My wife and I rarely argue, or even disagree. That sounds like a recipe for a pabulum life, or one wherein we really do disagree but don't acknowledge it, but in fact we're usually on the same page for any major topic. We will occasionally read articles about people planning to get married, wherein someone will advise them to run down a checklist of attitudes, particularly attitudes towards things that aren't an issue yet in the relationship -- do you want children? how many? If one person's job goes away, do they have to look for a new one immediately? -- and we will mull over whether we did that. Usually, it comes out that we didn't, at least in any formal sense -- we talked a lot, and that illuminated underlying attitudes without ever explicitly stating them. That seems to have worked pretty well. This morning, I was surprised when, while reading from articles in the Times' about attitudes towards money when you've got it and they don't, or the reverse, and then reading a followon article about the need to be lavish with yourself when you're with child, my wife and I disagreed, even if only a bit. Neither of us was saying that being lavish or ostentatious was good, but we disagreed about whether the article was even worth reading. Interesting.

The daughter is up and prowling about. She's just about ready to leave for school, and has informed me that it is not fair that I baked the three cakes last night for the torte but did not make the icing -- as she would have liked to have some of the cake for breakfast. Am I a tough father, or what....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Stumbling By Myself

StumbleUpon has not been working, all day. I've had to personally LOOK for new sites ! Oh, the horror!

Fortunately, I saved a cache of sites that I found while SUing, so I will just go there and mess around. Like the Nakamichi site. I really like them. I know almost nothing about their stuff other than a) I like the sound of the name, and b) I like the logo. K, that's enough.

It's Only A Day Away

Tomorrow's the day that we try out this product I've been working on, which I occasionally talk about in the other blog. To say I've been slaving on it would be overkill -- more accurate to say that I've been strapping on the helmet every day and running as fast as I can against the wall, trying to chip away enough to get some light through. Occasionally, a little bit penetrates. Tomorrow, I'm trying something for the first time. Part of the first time-ishness is that I'm doing it on two parallel systems at once, and part is I'm doing it with a new product, in addition to the regular ones. The first part, I think has about a 90 percent chance of working; the second, about a 40 percent chance, and when you factor in some other things, about a 20 percent chance. Unfortunately, its that new product that people are really looking forward to seeing, and which a certain non-technical person has been promoting as the certain fix to their problems. You never want to be in that position unless it truly and absolutely is, and you truly and absolutely know how to do it. It isn't, and I don't.

Tomorrow should be.... interesting.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Foggy Dreams

I had an odd dream the other day.

I was working in some sort of office. It became apparent that it would be a Very Good Idea if I were to leave the office, the company, and likely the country as quickly as possible. I found myself in the loading dock area of the building, where I quickly put on some anonymous green coveralls and joined the milling horde of people who were just leaving work. Unlike what I was used to, they jammed themselves into some kind of rapid transit system that was hot and smelly. It thundered through dark tunnels, occasionally stopping to take even more on, and finally emerged into the outside -- or what I assumed was the outside, as it was dark and extremely foggy. At one point I happened to be pressed up against a window as we passed a massive stanchion. I looked down and saw the base of the stanchion in the water, then I looked up and saw it piercing the thick layer of cloud and smog. I realized it was one of the supports of the Golden Gate Bridge.

And then I woke up.


I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but the underlying thought has occurred to me more than once, so --

I was just looking at a page of digital photography -- one of the apparently thousands of sites where people put up photographs to be admired (and sold, at least on this one). I don't have a digital camera yet, though I have eyes on one specific model. As I looked at these photographs, I found myself wondering if I would ever get shots as good as this, at all, let alone routinely. (To which the answer probably is, Yes, but not routinely). Then I noticed that the page had an option for viewing the most-viewed and the highest-rated photos, but also the least-viewed ones. Well, some of the latter were undoubtedly least viewed simply because of placement -- I gathered that the page always puts the newest first -- but some of them just weren't that good. Its not that they were bad, but they weren't good -- they didn't grab your attention, make you focus. They were -- okay.

So I started thinking a bit about what makes one photograph better than another. Much of that is subjective, I think -- once you get past the basic concepts of focus, balance, color saturation, and so forth, you're now talking about very fine gradations of evaluation. When I used to read photography magazines routinely, I was always a bit surprised at the comments that the staff photographers would make about the submitted shots -- I could not usually tell any difference between the submitted photograph or the 'improved' photo, or, if I could, it didn't look better, it just looked different. I'm willing to say that there were levels of betterness in there that I simply could not see, but which do exist -- like people whose taste buds are so nuanced that they taste differences in the finest gradations in the intensity of tea. But past that? I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that maybe, once you've gotten into that range, its all good. And that digital cameras, just because you can shoot and shoot and shoot, make it possible to hone the abilities, so that you tend to get into that zone faster, because, you get feedback faster. And if you have a bit of an eye, you get better. The bar of possibility gets raised, because everyone can do better.

So will there be a level of digital photography which is so good that only 'experts' will be able to differentiate it from lesser efforts? I'm thinking, maybe yes.

Just musing....


Due to an excess of sloth, I will not be making that torte today. I will, however, make it tomorrow.

In the meantime, if anyone would like to make one of these Canadian delights for me, feel free. I'll wait.

Of course, I wouldn't say no to some Tim-Tams, either.

Thank you.

Hard Stuff

I sometimes say that I like to read hard material. It'd be more accurate to say that I like to have read hard material. The actual process of translating it into something I understand can wear me right the heck out.

Here's an example of what I mean. I'm not even sure I understand the explanatory material. I for sure can't understand the details, and I'm in awe of -- and envious of -- people who do.

Fascinating stuff, though, even at my level.

Movie Humour

This is funny. Coarse, not something I'd let my daughter see, but funny.

Maine Thoughts

I'm sitting in the dining room, listening to the birds outside and the music inside. It's rather nice.

The birds outside are the normal morning array. A moment ago, a cardinal alit on the deck railing, close enough so that we could see detail on it. There are a couple of those around here, and we always delight in seeing them. And the music is Autumn Air, by Silver, Wood, & Ivory -- quiet and elegant. We just had breakfast, and in a little bit we're making the weekly run to the store where, among the usual, I'm buying the ingredients to make a mocha torte. Never done that before, so it should be an interesting experience.

I've had a magazine by my place at the table for some time now. It's the April 15 issue of CIO. On the cover is a glum looking man -- as well he should be; he's the lead in an article about a disaster in Maine that cost thirty million dollars, and counting, to resolve. There are so many mistakes and errors in the project, as detailed by the magazine, that after a while it becomes painful to read. It's always fun, in a way, to second-guess, but these folks got smashed, trashed, and whupped up side the head -- and that was in the first month of the go-live for their system. A great deal of their problems came from not understanding what they were trying to do -- not understanding it at a deep conceptual level. The article doesn't say if there were people who blithely assured the governor et al that this was just a bump in the road, just taking on ice, nothing to worry about, but in my experience there are always people like that in any IT project of any size. Even my little project has one.

There, but for the grace of god....

And thats the beginning of our Saturday.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cook, Read, or Both?

I like to bake, and sometimes I like to cook. I'm okay as a baker, and somewhat less as a cook. My wife would say I'm a good cook, but she's generous.

This evening I came across a site with an interesting premise. The site is 101Cookbooks, and here's what it says about itself:

The premise this site was built on is best summed up in two sentences: When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking. This site chronicles a cookbook collection, one recipe at a time.

101 Cookbooks started in early 2003 when I looked up at my huge cookbook collection one afternoon and realized that instead of exploring the different books in my collection - I was cooking the same recipes over and over. I seemed to buy a new cookbook every time I stepped out the front door - always with good intentions. I would regularly go through my collection of books and magazines and carefully tag each recipe that piqued my interest. I ended up with shelves full of books brimming with Post-it notes and drawers full of recipes clipped from my favorite magazines - neatly organized by course, flavor, region, or ingredient.

I made a resolution (although it turns out that I wasn't very good at keeping it). I would stop buying cookbooks, or at least scale back, and start trying new recipes. In the process I hoped to learn new techniques, explore unfamiliar ingredients, discover/keep track of new recipes, document my successes and failures, and hopefully inspire other cooks to do the same.

I think it's pretty good.


I read pretty quickly. When I was in grade school, I took a reading test that clocked me at over a thousand words a minute. Of course, these were short words, blip blip blip, and I can't truthfully say I remembered much of what I read for that test, even ten minutes later. Like Woody Allen once said, he took a speed reading course, and read War and Peace -- which, he thinks, was about Russia.

I don't read nearly that fast these days, but this evening, I read a book start to finish. Actually, I read it almost finish to end, then I went to the front and read to the almost finish, and skipped ahead to the end. It wasn't a thousand words a minute, though, because this was a small book -- one of my daughter's books, with a simple plot, larger than normal type, and the occasional illustration. The book was The Landry News, and it's by Andrew Clement. Here's one of the reviews I found for it.

One of the underlying themes of the book is that kids will do the right thing if you give them some guidance, and give them a chance. They may not do what you wish they'd done, and their take on what the right thing is might not square with yours, but they will usually try.

Its a comforting, and a comfortable, thought. I like it, and I liked the book.


That was me out there last night, around 6, mowing the lawn. And this morning at 7:30, mowing the lawn. And again at noon. And at around four. The stuff in front was the highest, around six feet (okay, not really, but high -- about three inches), but some of the stuff in back was pretty shaggy, too. When we bought the house, we borrowed a friends mower to do the lawn -- it hadn't been mowed in about three weeks at that time, during prime growing season. We cut so much that we had to have the blade sharpened before we returned the mower.

We did this in four passes because it was heavy going. The mower was basically exhausted by the end of each of the first two passes. The third, I did because I was working from home, I needed a break, and it certainly needed to be done. And the last was because I'd saved a flat spot for my daughter to try out her mowing skills. Umm...not quite yet. She liked it, though.

I hadn't remembered what a pain doing this can be, or how much satisfaction you can get when its done.


I hate remembering things like this. But we have to. The politicians sure won't.

Happiness for Geeks

The fellow on this page is a geek, and I think he's got the right ideas about how to be happy.

Slow Friday

Not because of desire, but intent. It seems like the kind of day when it'd be a good idea to take things slowly -- and, as a smart person once said to me, to keep moving along.

Last night, my daughter was out till 10 on a school color guard activity. She normally goes to sleep at 8:30 on a school night, 9:30 on a weekend night. She was exhausted, plus she had the remnants of a cold. This morning, she was moving very slowly. She announced that since she had a field trip today, and only one core class, she wanted to stay home. I actually understood that logic, but unfortunately for her I was out of the house when she presented it. Her mother is much less likely than me to cut her slack in that area. Truth to tell, I probably wouldn't have, either.

The reason I was out was that I was continuing the saga of mowing the yard. The electric mulching mower we bought said it could do up to a third of an acre, which happens to be the size of our land, but of course we interpretted that as a third of a really flat acre that was mowed recently. Neither of those is true. I ran out the charge on the machine doing the front and part of the side of the house last night. This morning, I ran out the charge finishing the side and doing most of the back. Tonight or tomorrow, we'll finish it. I forgot how much of a workout you can get with a mower. My daughter asked that we not get a riding mower, and that hadn't been in the plan anyway, but this morning, it would have been nice. Heck, I looked up and saw the farmer go by on his tractor -- manly tractor -- and wondered if he mowed lawns.

And then I came back in, learned of the altercation with the daughter, found an instant message asking me to do something trivial immediately....and I decided this would be a good day to just take as it came.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Click to Enlarge. Bang to Enrage.

Found here.

Here's What I Want

a) To understand the flow of whats happening in the software product that I'm installing. I really don't. It bothers me that I don't, and it seems that every time I do it I get further but still ultimately confused and doing it by rote. Thats not my ideal of 'professional'.

b) To have a set of noise cancelling headsets that will substantially mute the outside world, and can be used for decent, perhaps exceptional sound. I know they're out there. I know they're expensive. The reviews say that they've pretty good, but not as good as the price charged would lead you to expect.

c) I want the people I work with to be able to convince their managers that the time they spend on new stuff is time that takes away their ability to work on old stuff. Thats not a problem for me, but it is for them, and it bothers me. I wonder if thats a symptom of my naive view of the world.

d) I'd like people to promise to deliver only what they are sure they actually can deliver. Or reasonably sure. And when they find out they can't, I want them to say so, and not get an unreasoable amount of grief for being honest about it.

e) Oh, and I 'd like a piece of chocolate cake, please.

Okay, thats it for now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Twenty-Four Hours

Well, this has been (and continues to be) an interesting twenty four hours.

We found that the people who cut our grass weren't planning to do it this year, at all. And then we found that the mower we would likely buy, if we did, is quite popular and completely sold out. Moral: Check your support systems occasionally.

We found that my daughter's illness is (probably) not strep throat. She did get to discuss, briefly, her dissection of a worm, comparing that to the digital dissection of a frog. The doctor opined as to how a hands-on is better -- more sense of texture, organ placement. I asked if he had ever heard of the ADAM project. He had not.

I received a blog comment wherein a woman told me that she did not like wearing G-Strings. Multiple lurid thoughts came rapidly to mind before my superego woke up and hosed down the area. It really was an innocuous comment. I'm just not used to that. Though my id proclaimed loudly that the more, the merrier.

The people who fill my prescriptions via mail-order informed me that they required further authorization for one. Apparently, the insurer wants to be sure that I am really required to take it. They did return the prescription, though. I get to mail it back when and if they say they'll accept it.

My software project has bifurcated, and I am now focusing on just getting the mainframe part running. Alas, the one part they really want turns out to be different than what we have. I might be able to get it electronically, but I don't know if I can -- or have to -- meld it into what I have now.

Gas prices. Should I drive into the office, where I will get more done but be more interruptible, or work from home?

The cleaning crew comes to the house today. Normal pre-arrival clutter abounds.

And, the piece de resistance (French for 'oh,crap'): my periodontal appointment is this afternoon. My wife says if they give me grief I can simply not go back -- at least, to them. But I still have to at least go today.

Wonder what Kiefer Sutherland would do?

Update: We bought a mower (electric, cordless,mulching); I worked from home, the cleaning people came while I was t the dentist (not great, not terrible) , the software project is still kerflumped. And nobody offered to discuss G strings with me. (sigh)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Under There

I've been thinking about underwear lately. We don't tend to give gifts for organized, Nationally Recognized Gifting Opportunities, except Christmas, but we do for Birthdays. And as one is coming up for a certain, ahem, friend of mine, I'd like to get her something nice. Something appropriate for her age. Something sexy. Not Victoria's Secret sexy, not thin as a rail and twice as pale sexy, and not grandma-sexy. Sexy.

Several years ago, I had a paperback book that had as its cover illustration just the fringe of a peach-color slip with a goodly amount of delicate white lace. I liked that enough to look for something like it when the next gifting opportunity arrived. I was surprised how easy it was to find cheap reproductions that kind-of looked like it, and how difficult to find something with a soft, sensuous feel. Eventually I did, at Nordstrom's, but it took a while. I ended up buying several things of that type from there, over time, because she liked it, and thats pretty important to me. But even though I doubt you can really ever have too much of that kind of thing, I eventually got the feeling that we'd reached surfeit. I think the occasion of realization was when she found one that she hadn't worn in more than a year, tucked in behind some other things.

But I'd like to give it another try, anyway. Something that's as soft, sexy, and sensuous as she is. Given that this will most likely be a mail-order thing, and given my standards, this may take a while.

Because I don't know where to start (there's no freakin way to tell, on the Web, the good stuff from the bad) .

Monday, May 01, 2006

..and the Other

I asked an acquaintance who's a doctor if digitalis was a cardiac stimulant. Turns out its not what I thought. Guess I'll stick to my side of the digital divide.

And I tried to find out why fever makes your forehead hot. Okay, the blood, but why -- does it literally get hotter, or is there increased bloodflow, and that feels warmer, or what? Alas, doing a google search on 'why is fever hot' yielded lots of non-useful entries.

But at least its better than the person I heard of who had a dog in heat, wanted info on what to expect, and did a search for Bitches in Heat. Oh, my.

EOTW, Redux

This morning, I was in my daughter's bedroom at about a quarter after four. She had been sneezing and coughing intermittently through the day, and at dinner was uncharacteristically slow moving, staring off into space a lot. We took her temperature, and she was running a bit of a fever, so we let her skip the rest of dinner, gave her some drugs, and put her to bed. About an hour later, my wife looked in on her. She was still awake, which wasn't normal for her. She still had the fever, and said she felt about the same.

I worried about her. I'm a little bit of a worrier, anyway, and seeing articles every so often about Ten Childhood Illnesses That Can Kill and whatnot (which I try not to read) don't help. I didn't think she was dying, but I don't like it when she's sick. So when I found myself awake a little after four, I went in to see how she was. I touched her forehead, and it felt cool. She awoke at my touch, and she told me she felt better -- so immediately I felt better.

And then I went back to bed and had a strange dream. It was again about the end of the world, and it was again unusual.

In this version, I was in a room or hall with a bunch of people. The day had been unusually cloudy, with a mixture of fog and rain, and we had sensed that something unusual was going on. In the room, we were told quietly that this was, in fact, the end of the world, and that it would be shutting down in about five hours. Until then, we were free to walk around, talk with people, do what we wanted. There was no elation, no despair -- just a certain level of acceptance. I went out into the darkened street -- it was a bit chilly, as I recall -- and found myself walking with two women -- one was my cousin, and one was my friend who had died some years ago. We pressed on through the orderly crowds, looking in store windows and whatnot. At one point we stopped into a bank, where the vault was open. Some people were casually taking some of the available cash, but as many were dropping cash off, just dumping it into a bucket. A pile of discarded wallets was on the marble floor. Out in the street again, we saw people walking into a funeral parlor, and we (now just me and my friend, my cousin having darted into a store) went into see what was happening. The staff was characteristically morbid and glum. There were no caskets, no trappings of death. Instead, there were large beds -- king-size, if not larger -- and on each of them someone was either having sex with one or two people or simply lying naked, watching us watching them. It was as remarkable as white clouds on a summer day. On the way out, I passed a very attractive woman, slender, with short blond hair. On an impulse, I kissed her passionately, which surprised her for a moment before she joined in with equal fervor.

And then I woke up.