Sunday, December 30, 2001

This Is Not Your Father's Goku

The New Banner Is Here! The New Banner Is Here! Yes, I've finally gotten off my keyster and uploaded an image. This one is of Son Goku, or just Goku, from Dragonball Z. Jean got Kelly a snap-together model as a stocking stuffer, seeing as how Kelly is fond of the show, thanks to Cartoon Network.

It was a bear to put together, mostly because the directions referred constantly to a part's position on plastic frames. If you have ever assembled a model you know what I'm talking about. Parts of the model are strung together on a plastic frame, due to the lot of them being injection molded into a form. The problem arose because Kelly had helpfully removed many of the tiny nondescript parts from the frames ahead of time. Fortunately, with some trial and error, we got it figured out.

This photo is one of my few attempts at macro photography, since my digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix 950, though it supposedly has one of the best macro modes in the digital camera world, lacks one thing: the ability to take photos with a timer in macro mode. This forces me to manually click the shutter button, which can jiggle the camera, and therefore blur the macro image. But this one turned out pretty good, don't you think? I used my inexpensive Slik U8000 tripod I got off of Ebay to steady the shot, somewhat.

Before the holidays are over, I'll try to replace the 'Candid Kelly' shot in the Welcome message with a new one from Christmas. Jean tells me that none of them are all that flattering this year, characterizing the 'best' two as Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and I'm Gonna Hurl!

But I like 'em both, so you'll get at least one, and possibly both crammed onto the home page.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

<A HREF="">E. Coli in the Box</A>

Not the first simultaneously strange and clever thing Jean's ever said (in fact she logged two more today already), but it stuck in my head. Regarding some new construction near our home, one building of which is a two-story affair, surrounded by signs declaring 'Coming soon! Jack-in-the-Box!', I remarked, "who ever heard of a two-story Jack-in-the-Box?"

Jean, who was driving, replied in a somewhat distracted fashion: "It's probably just, you know ... architecture."

I think I hurt myself laughing after that one sank in...

Friday, December 28, 2001

New Timesink

Being perfectly honest with myself, I have to admit that I have more PS2 and PS One games than I am likely to finish in the next year, given my normal lifestyle and schedule. Some are RPGs with definitive goals; haven't played any of them to completion yet. Some of them are platform games or other arcade style games, where you just play until you get good or get tired of them. I haven't done either on any of them.

So naturally, having another long weekend coming up, and money in my pocket from Christmas, I ran down to Fry's and bought another game. But this one was special. It is Final Fantasy X, the first Final Fantasy game made especially for the PS2. I went downstairs to just play the opening animations, around 5:30 pm, and just now came up, 2-1/2 hours later. This is one beautiful game. It remains to be seen how interesting it is, since I'm in the early stages where a lot of backstory is being pumped out.

Anyway, as this weekend is exceptional, I expect I'll get six or eight hours into it and then stall for lack of time and energy. In the meantime, it's a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Downtown Torpedoes

I've had this in my 'to watch' pile since Anime Expo 2001 this summer. This review details the particulars of the movie's cast, locations and plot, better than I can. In any case, I popped it in Christmas night, as everyone was worn out but I had some energy left.

I have to say that much as I enjoy Hong Kong movies, and the goofy high energy they oftentimes exhibit, this one was mediocre at best. So often they shot for 'cool' and came up 'luke-warm'. A car chase that looked more like a caravan (they shake the chasers by pulling their spy truck, conveniently disguised as a bottled water truck, into a bottled water plant). A couple of double-crosses telegraphed across the length of the movie. Computer hacking that would be laughable even if you didn't know something about computers as I do.

Overall, while some of the actors were personable, I thought they were wooden and underutilized throughout the movie. So while I'd let a friend watch this movie, I'd have to give it a 'B-' as my recommendation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Successful Christmas

I won't bore you with the full laundry list of who got what. Suffice to say that Kelly enjoyed herself and hasn't yet exhausted the store of new toys to play with. I got Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and disappeared for an hour or so playing with my Game Boy Advance.

We went down to Mentor to feed the ducks, a family tradition which we whimsically pretend will bring us luck in the following year. I had time to do strength training, and spent a goodly part of the day breaking down boxes and picking up trash.

One thing which worked well this year is that I used an Amazon Wish List to express some of the things I wanted. Jean bought from that, so she didn't need to give me cash this year (something I've always said I preferred before, since I usually know better what I want than anyone else, but don't always have a list handy).

The remainder of the day will be spent lazing about. If I'm feeling exceptionally motivated in the next several days, I'll try to upload a few Christmas images, though I didn't take very many this year. Just feeling lazy.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Ghost Squirrel

Jean wrote up a conversation we had with Kelly while driving to swim class a couple of weeks ago. Since Jean is the humor columnist for a local paper, she embellished it somewhat, but the general shape of the conversation and the ideas therein are actually pretty close to what was actually said.

I don't actually talk the way she writes me (do I?), but the bit with the crutches is mine. Missing is my more evil and insane commentary (and he had a hook!). Just click on the link at the bottom of this article to get to Jean's actual article...

These 10-minute drives can drive you crazy

by Jean Wakefield

We're heading down Tualatin-Sherwood Road to the YMCA for Kelly's swimming class.

Kelly: "Mom, how do you spell sprite?"

Me: "S-p-r-i-t-e. If you mean the pop, then you capitalize it because it's a name. Why?"

Kelly: "It's from Scrooge. You know, the Sprite of Christmas Past."

Me: "I think you mean spirit. Were you watching it in the basement? The acoustics down there are terrible. Bryant Gumble sounds like Bob Dylan."

My husband: "There's no Sprite in the basement. Only Mr. Pibb, and I drank it."

Kelly: "Not in the basement. In the hallway. There's such a thing as spirits, you know. I saw them last night going past my room."

My husband: "Those are boxelder bugs."

Kelly: "No, ghosts. But only children can see them. Did you ever see a ghost a hundred years ago when you were little, Mom?"

Me: "I know someone who saw a ghost when she was a kid. But if there is such a thing as a ghost, I think it's just a spot like the hallway playing the memory of a person over and over like a tape recording. A ghost isn't a person who's out to get you. That's spelled l-a-w-y-e-r."

Kelly: "Well, I saw a young ghost. A 15-year-old. She didn't die regular. It was a car accident. Yup, what a pity. Can I have a Cremesaver?"

Me: "Her parents must've been devastated."

Kelly: "Her mother caught cancer and her father died of the dog flu. That's a bad kind of flu. Her brother got the chicken pox, a very serious kind, and he died."

My husband: "Sign that family up for the Good Health Plan."

Kelly: "Then her pet squirrel died from polio. But he didn't die right away. It took him a while."

My husband: "What a sad sight, that poor squirrel dragging himself around the neighborhood with a tin cup."

Kelly: "It was only in his toe. His toe didn't work because of polio."

Me: "Ah. So he had toe-lio."

My husband: "They rubbed it with oleo to see if it would grow-lio."

Kelly: "Did not. They had to amputate it."

My husband: "It must have been hard for him to scamper up trees with a bum toe."

Kelly: "He didn't go up trees. He was a ground squirrel."

Me: "At least we can take comfort knowing that he now has a rich spirit life surrounded by nuts."

Kelly: "And he used crutches."

My husband; "Now that he's dead, do you hear his ghost clambering around on the roof?"

Me: "Scamper-scamper clunk. Scamper-scamper clunk. Hey, I'm allergic to ghosts. We should call in an exorcist."

Kelly: "You could ask at the YMCA. They've got exercisists there."

Me: "Okay. I'll sign you up for a swimming class and an exorcism."

My husband: "Hey! If you pass this session, maybe you'll be moved up to ground squirrel."

Kelly: "Dad. Don't be silly. Squirrels can't swim!"

My husband: "But you better work hard. If you flunk you get dropped down to drowned squirrel."

Kelly: "Can we just have quiet in this car? You're giving me a headache."

Me: "I'd like to point out that this whole conversation could've been avoided if our country would initiate a comprehensive rodent vaccination program. Please give generously. Thank you."

Christmas Eve Reveries

Kelly is wired. She reminds me every few minutes that tomorrow is Christmas. I tried telling her that due to a labor shortage, Christmas had to be postponed until the weekend. She was rather cross with me over that.

Then I tried a different tack:

Me: Did you remember to pay the Christmas tax?

Kelly: Yep!

Me: Did you remember to apply for your Christmas Visitation License?

Kelly: Yes. It's hanging on the wall in the living room where Santa Claus can see it.

Jean (from the kitchen): Don't forget we have to put out the milk and cookies too!

Me: I've heard that Santa is trying to lose some weight. He's asked people to offer him a glass of red wine and a bowl of grapes now instead.

Kelly: Da-ad! No he doesn't!

Me: But I still think he'd appreciate something else. Maybe an apple or some cheese?

Kelly: Uh huh. We could put some cheese on the plate for him, sliced flat. One half of the plate would be cookies, the other half would be cheese.

Things just kept getting sillier from there, but you get the idea. Earlier Jean asked me if 6am would be okay for getting up, or should we make Kelly wait until 6:30? I commented that given the choice between 11 lashes with a whip and 12, I'd still complain about receiving 11. I'm going to try finding excuses to wake Kelly up a few times before midnight. She doesn't like this idea, as she thinks Santa won't come, but I told her "He knows when you are sleeping, remember?" Somehow that creeped her out, and she yelled at me. Oh well. I don't think I'll be able to force myself to bed early enough to compensate, so I've got dibs on a nap tomorrow.

A Russet By Any Other Name

Is it just me, or are pierogies and knishes just exercises in different scale? I've never had a knish, to the best of my knowledge, but the descriptions I find online sound like large pierogies. And I do like pierogies a lot. Anyone know?

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Blocked or Lazy?

Last Thursday we lost power, as I've mentioned. What I've neglected to mention is that the wireless router we use, the Airport Base Station, failed after this event. A power surge just before the outage may be responsible, but there is a known flaw in early models where two capacitors on the circuit board fail. Because of this, I was able to get Apple Customer Relations to agree to send me a replacement.

But it isn't here yet, so I've been remiss in posting. Finally I couldn't stand it, and I'm posting here at work. Other things will have to wait though, such as a humorous essay written by Jean, relating an only slightly fictionalized conversation between Jean, Kelly and I in the car last Saturday. I'll post it as soon as I can, but suffice to say it has to do with ghosts, squirrels, polio and other odd subjects.

As for why I've not posted the pictures from our trip to the coast yet, well, that was all just getting used to the iMac, and as soon as the router is working I'll try to get a few up, at least changing the banner above. Yeah, that's the ticket. Just you wait...

The Fellowship

As the year looms to a close, I've got tons of unclaimed vacation time. So guess what I did today? That's right, I went to the first showing of Fellowship of the Ring. This knowing full well that I'll definitely be seeing it again come Saturday night with the post-NOVA crowd.

I just couldn't help myself, you see. Though I haven't read the books in decades, literally (and doesn't that make me feel older to declare it), I remember the great pleasure I took in reading them as a youngster. There was one summer when I read all four books (counting The Hobbit) three times in a row. They were so rich, multithreaded and imbued with substance, reading more as a history than a story.

Add to that that Peter Jackson is a director of great diversity and a quirky vision who just stands a chance of capturing that history, without compromise, and I couldn't wait. So I left at lunchtime, and am writing my impressions up before returning to work. Don't look for a full review, as this is a movie which will receive enough exposure without my petty voice.

First impressions:

  • Granted that a movie is devoted to each book, they are still 400 to 500 pages apiece. So the movie suffers some inevitable compression. Telescoping the key elements of the story into the movie leaves one feeling definitely rushed, at first.

  • In spite of this, I felt many times that the movie captured the mythic quality of the story, the epic scope, without becoming overly self conscious. The flavor of the characters, when they are given time on screen, feels right.

  • Imagine if the first Star Wars movie had been The Empire Strikes Back. That's what this one felt like. Knowing the books, I fear the second movie will be The Empire Kicks You When You're Down.

  • Elf women are gorgeous.

Let's de-emphasize that last one around Jean, shall we? I jest, she knows I'm ever faithful to her.

So is it worth seeing two times, as I shall? Without a doubt, if you are a Tolkein fan or just generally into well done fantasy stories. I wish they'd release the other movies closer together than yearly, as I know they were being shot concurrently, and I really don't want to wait.

Waiting for Gameboy

Yes! I can't wait (okay, I have to, but it's hard). continues to discuss his prototype for a frontlight modification to the Game Boy Advance, which is notoriously difficult to use in dim light.

What's got me worked up is he now has a screenshot of Castlevania, Circle of the Moon, a game which I own, running on his modified prototype. And it looks great! Castlevania is the darkest game (in terms of lumens) available for the GBA, so I can only use it under a bright lamp, which is kinda constricting as I tend to use the GBA mainly in the spectator area of the YMCA swimming pool while Kelly takes swimming lessons. That, and knitting.

So I'm on his list of folks interested in buying the kit when he gets it together, and I'm now bouncing up and down on my chair, 'cause ... I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Nomad Dad

I tried to call my Dad to wish him a happy birthday today. I used the number I thought was the corrected one. Wrong number. Then I used the one in the letter from his wife, off by one digit. Wrong number. I don't think he wants to hear about his birthday .

Season of Darkness

We are entering the wet, windy winter of Oregon, and with it comes power outages. When we lived in Portland (Tigard, really, but we were in one of those Gerrymandered little curlicues belonging to Portland), we would lose power at least once every winter, and if we were lucky, it would last less than a couple of days. More standard would be a power outage which lasted a week.

Since we moved to Tualatin, the land of buried power lines, this has become less of a problem. Now, we seldom experience outages at all, and when we do, they amount to less than an hour, minutes more often. However, Thursday we had the most 'dramatic' outage we've had in awhile. The power went out around 6:45pm, and didn't return until 9:20pm. All the computers shut down, dropping my file download and cutting us off from the Internet (gasp). The television of course ceased to function, sending Kelly into a spiral of despair. She was literally wandering around the house declaiming "this is the worst day of my life!" That's what you get for being addicted to Cartoon Network, kiddo.

At the time, of course, we didn't know how long it would last. Initially, we were expecting maybe a half hour. When that time came and went, Jean called PG&E to find out what the estimate was. It turns out that power had been lost in West Linn, and they were shunting power from Tualatin. Who knows why? Maybe there was a hospital involved. Otherwise, why punish good little ant Tualatin who planned for the winter by burying her power lines, to reward lazy grasshopper West Linn, foolishly leaving his power lines above ground?

So anyway, we were left with an estimate of 8pm for reestablished service. By this time we'd fished out the candles, flashlights and portable radio, I was eating my cold dinner, and Kelly had settled down into a lachrymose murmur of despair. I resolved to finish my dinner.

My main concern during all this was that it was cold outside, and that although our house has gas heat, it uses an electric blower! Doh! So the house was going to get gradually colder the longer the outage persisted. Jean had already put on a large chenille robe. I opted to just remain in my day's clothing, with the option of putting on a jacket if needed. Kelly, in her usual sound judgement, had stripped down to her underpants.

After I finished my dinner and brushed my teeth, it occurred to me that I had a computer that would still work, though not connected to the Internet. I went downstairs, got my iBook, put in the battery, and brought it upstairs. Then I loaded four episodes of Angelic Layer off of a CD-R I had lying on the shelf, and began watching. As soon as the sound of the opening theme music began wafting out of the tinny speaker, Kelly came a running! Cartoons! Cartoons! After two episodes (which Kelly gave the big thumbs up to), it was time for Kelly to go to bed. No bath, sorry, the water would probably be too cool by now.

So I put both the women to bed, and called PG&E again, at Jean's bidding. Current estimate, 11:50pm! Ugghh! So I settled down in the living room to read a book by candlelight. I haven't done that in awhile. Note to myself: a regular hurricane lamp doesn't flicker nearly as much as a flame from a candle in the bottom of a glass bowl.

By this time, the house temperature was down to 67 degrees, though I was lying on the floor in my street clothes feeling quite comfortable. Suddenly, at 9:20 pm, the power surged back on. The television Jean had left on in the basement began chattering, the refrigerator hummed away, and all the other little noises of an elecric household assumed their rightful place in the ambient background. Kelly and Jean both popped out of bed, and it took awhile to get the clocks reset and everyone back to bed.

At this point, I'd insert the obligatory old saw about having a glimpse of our ancestors' lifestyle, but I did all that when I lived on Lake Gogebic in Michigan for several months as a teenager. It sucked then, and it sucks now. Kelly "This is the worst day of my life" Wakefield has no clue...

Is Hyperbole Killing Email?

Michael Fraase throws his tempest into the Spam Is Killing Email teapot. I'm starting to guess that this is really just a problem for 'famous' people. Since they have high visibility, they get a lot more junk email than I do. Since they didn't all get to their current prominently visible positions by being notably clever, they assume everybody else has the same problem. Following their reasoning trendline, they decide the only solution is to ... replace email!

Sorry jackasses. I get maybe six or seven spam messages a day at home, and possibly eight or ten at work. My email has become totally useless, because I have to spend, what, ten, fifteen seconds deleting the junk mail? And if the volume ever gets worse, I know how to use filters, fergodsakes! Jeez, some people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Typing of the Neophytes

Kelly's now graduated to typing out sentences as a way of practicing writing. She's of course just a hunt 'n' pecker, but she has pretty good output when you consider that she's also sounding out the words to figure out how to spell them. And just to prove it, here's a little sample:





pigpigppppigpgigpigpigpigpigpignoknokhosthergosgoshogosgotyornosyornos mom

ses to pla nis but i can be nis to mie frens i like my frens my frens are my pals furevur

i dot noe my noe frenns tomuch and ilike my frens ulitul bit to much."

"i luve my mom to much but my mom sum timse my mom kutles me.

dad and me go shoping and we hav a grat time dad and we luve it we go to the toy stor we can get toys frum the toy stor i luve you,kkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. pppppppppppppppppppppppppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggppppp


fffffffiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... kellykllykelllykllykellykellykekkykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykelllykellykellykellykelly


Okay, a little raw, but still touching to me. I'm very impressed with her progress.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

Christmas Hijinx

I took Kelly shopping yesterday. First we went to Fred Meyer's to pick up my prescription (sinus medicine, helps me avoid sinus infections), then we went shopping for a present from Kelly to Jean. Kelly decided that doing earrings this year, as in so many others, would be predictable and boring. So instead we shopped for slippers. I won't describe them on the off chance that Jean sees this entry, but I think Kelly did a good job. The fact that Kelly's gift is slippers won't come as a surprise since she told Jean immediately that that would be her present. So the surprise is in which kind she's gonna get.

Next we moved on to Toys 'r' Us, where I planned to get some feedback from Kelly on which computer games she wanted for Christmas. I told her to pick out three that she liked, and I'd get one or two on a separate trip. But once she picked out her stack, she insisted that I could get them right then and there. "I won't look," she assured me. I decided to remove the temptation, and grabbed my sock hat out of my pocket, and tugged it down over her head so she couldn't see. I then grabbed two of the games and led her to the checkout.

It was especially amusing to me since the checkout guy's scanner had problems scanning our check. Kelly had to stand there with the sock hat over her head for four or five minutes while I tried to pay for the presents. Eventually things straightened out, and I hid the bag under my jacket, letting Kelly come up for air. All in all, she thought the whole thing was pretty fun!

Friday, November 30, 2001

Travel Sucks

Joy, joy. Another day, another day trip. I dropped Kelly off at school yesterday morning, then I ran back home to gather together my gear. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the airport. I parked in the parking garage, since Mentor reimburses travel expenses, and I figure they oughta pick up the higher rate since they're asking me to travel. I had my first intimation of how things had changed when I parked. They'd cordoned off a chunk of the garage nearest to the terminal, with dire 'tow-away' warnings all along the plastic mesh fence partitioning the area. This was nearly a quarter of the parking spaces!

Once inside I noticed that the airport proper was pretty empty. It's post-holiday, and my flight was after the morning shuttle-rush, so that's at least partially understandable. I met with Dave, my boss, and John, and we made our way through the security gate. I got a more thorough going over with the magnetic wand when my belt buckle made the scanners beep, but no strip searches .

I never saw any National Guard in PDX, but Dave claims to have seen one. There was a bicycle cop riding up and down the concourse, but since there were maybe a total of fifteen people in our immediate area, he had nothing much to do. Eventually we boarded our flight, which was less than a quarter full. I moved to a seat where I had empty seats on all sides, and spent the flight reading up on OpenSSH to learn about getting a secure X Windows connection with work from home.

We picked up our rental car in San Jose, stopped by the Mentor offices to pick up some other folks, then proceeded to meet with Company X (not going to mention what we were doing there, for NDA reasons). These guys had a really nice office, and a cool conference room with a view. There, is that vague enough for you?

After the meeting, one guy who had lived in San Jose tried to give us directions to Germania Haus, a German restaurant, before he went home. Of course we couldn't find it with both hands, so we drove around until we found a Thai restaurant, and ate there. The food was pretty good, and Dave picked up the tab. We stopped to eat since our return flight wasn't until 8:45pm. That's what you get when you try to book business trips at the last minute.

On the way back to the airport, we passed by the San Jose Coliseum (yes, it's called Logitech Ice, but c'mon), where there was a huge crowd, being directed by traffic cops. At first I though it was a WWF match, since the marquee was advertising that. But after a little while, it became clear from the dress of the attendants that this was a Sharks game. The Sharks are the San Jose hockey team, and they're quite popular. In case you're curious, here's a recap, wherein the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the San Jose Sharks.

We got to the terminal early, so we went for snackies, and I went to a gift store and bought Kelly a stocking stuffer for Christmas: an S. J. Sharkie plush keychain. He's carrying a surfboard, kawaii!

Mexicana Airlines was really busy last night, with at least two plane loads of people waiting in a long line at their ticket counter. I was trying to figure out why there'd be so many Latinos leaving at the same time, and I still can't figure it out.

We went through a somewhat more thorough security check to get to our gate, and now I actually saw two National Guardsmen. And four policemen! The gate was crowded this time. Our flight was delayed 'due to security issues in Portland', so I didn't actually get to leave until 9:20 pm. The flight was nearly full this time around, so I guess red-eye flights are busier than late-morning flights. Okay, it was only 9:20 pm, so it wasn't a red-eye. Jean says it was a 'pink-eye' flight. Aggh! Don't touch anything!

The woman sitting next to me told me that she flew down to San Jose that morning too. In her case, her flight was cancelled, and they put her on a flight to Oakland, where everyone on the flight was bussed to San Jose! So I guess I got off easy. The flight was uneventful, and I disembarked and walked to my car with no further incidents. Well, not until it came time to pay for the day's parking. It turns out that since the last time I went on a business trip for Mentor and now, they've doubled the price of one day's parking in the garage. It's now $32! Luckily, I had that much and only that much in my wallet. I had been debating buying Jean a T-Shirt at the San Jose gift shop, and decided to wait for something better. Now I'm glad I did.

I got home around midnight, and took another half hour to an hour to unwind and go to sleep. That's when I discovered that mild respiratory infections and air travel don't mix. I woke myself up coughing frequently, and as a result got very little sleep. I spent today taking it easy, working from home on my OpenSSH X connection. And I got that working! Cool!

Two 'ominous' notes. While walking through the terminal Dave was talking about his visit to Helsinki on business, and I mentioned that my Dad's side of the family if from Finland. He wanted to know if I had been to Finland and I admitted that except for Canada, I'd never left the United States. "Well," he said, "we'll have to do something about that." I seriously doubt he'll find a convincing business reason to do that, but it's unsettling anyway.

The other 'ominous' note was that he offered to meet these guys again in a few weeks on the East Coast! And he used the word 'we'! Help me! Help me!

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

K - e - double l - y Spells Kelly

By the way, Kelly did her homework with me last night. It consisted of reading a moderately challenging book. I'm truly impressed with the progress she's making in reading. She hardly stumbled on any of the words, and she's really worked out her tactics for sounding out variants of a word until she nails what it really says. I'm very proud of her.

Roof Fixed

The roof contractors showed up yesterday around 4pm and worked their magic. It's been raining overnight, and this morning saw no increase in the size of stains on the foyer ceiling, so I have hopes they spotted all the leakage.

Today is heavy rain, sometimes approaching horizontal, so I guess their work will get the stress test. Cross your fingers!

Travel Again

Well, looks as if I get to see just what Portland International Airport (and San Jose too) look like after the events of September 11th. I'm going on a business trip tomorrow, from which I will return to Portland by 10:30pm. Yuck!

Monday, November 26, 2001

Just an Experiment...

I've been attempting to replicate the structure of Terebi I here by creating subdirectories containing my reviews and essays (slowly, slowly). One thing which has occurred to me is that such subdirectories are 'invisible' to Greymatter, the software I use to run this weblog. This means that they are not included in searches the user runs from the search box. Big shortcoming, since I often want to search for something stashed in one of my articles.

I may try my hand at extending the search engine, but I don't want to break the code, and Perl is an infrequent programming language for me since I've started using Python for scripting tasks. To make a long story short, I'm going to use a feature of Greymatter called 'Extended Entry Text' in this post to see:

  1. How it looks on the home page.

  2. If the extended part is indexed for searching

This may take a while to totally test, since I'm most interested in behavior when archiving kicks in, i.e. after it rolls off the end of the front page. So expect to see a few of these 'extended entries' while I test it out...

Greymatter is a very nice CGI scripting suite for creating weblogs. If I were writing one myself, I'd probably do several things differently, tailoring the environment to my own peculiar needs. But considering how long it took Noah Grey to implement the current system, and considering that I don't actually wish to import all my entries from Greymatter into a new system, I'll pass on that task.

What I hope to achieve however, is the ability to make my anime reviews and other essays searchable in the same way as regular weblog posts are. This 'extended entry' is my first experiment. Following are several words I hope will be caught by the search script, at least after this article is archived:

  1. phrygean

  2. omphaloskepsis

  3. Patagonian

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Computer Media Adventures

I saw Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone with my friends last Saturday, and while there I saw a trailer for the live-action Scooby Doo movie. It's actually pretty clever, creatively using another Warner Bros. film property to 'kid the product'. I hunted the trailer down at the above link, and showed it to Kelly, whereupon she promptly set about viewing it six times. Now she has to wait 'til next summer to see the actual movie.

On another media note, she's hooked on Magical Nyan Nyan Taruto, as she watched five episodes in a row yesterday afternoon. I've only got nine, and there are only eleven translated. Twelve isn't even out yet. Poor little Kelly!

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

On the Other Hand

Brighter news than leaking roofs: Kelly found a blank book in her closet, and without prompting began to fill it with 'diary' entries. She used to pretend write, filling pages with squiggly lines, but now she is sounding out words, and spelling real, if extremely simple, sentences. 'Yoew?' is 'Why?', the title of her first poem. But despite some of these spelling howlers, I can actually read some of her stuff, usually with the aid of context. It's pretty cool.

When It Rains

Seems we have leak. Given the location of ceiling stains, I'm guessing the flashing around the chimney is failing. We're now searching for contractors who can do the work expeditiously.

In other annoying news, I enjoyed using our Internet connection into the evening, but this morning it seems to be out of service. Any bets on whether it will be fixed before the long holiday weekend commences?

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Lost Weekend

For the hypothetical individual out there wondering what became of my pictures of our coast trip, I flaked. I really need to install Photoshop (version 4.2 came bundled with our scanner) on the iMac, and also the drivers for the USB CompactFlash card reader, so I can upload the pictures to the computer, then crop them. Oh, and then I need to install my FTP tool, Interarchy. All bought and paid for, chilluns.

One final tool I've thought of getting for just this purpose is Cameraid, by Juri Munkki. It has a lot of features that I'll never use, but it has one I would, in this case. Point it at a folder of photos, and it'll create a web page with thumbnail photos which link to the full-size originals. Cool, neh?

Sick Holiday

I spent what felt like most of the night coughing, so when I 'woke up' this morning I was fairly shady. I went to work because I thought I could and I had a few commitments. Seems like it was a good idea, since I interacted with several people I needed to see.

However, I'm feeling rather punked right now, so I've decided to take some of my vacation time and take the entire day off tomorrow. I'm not going to lie abed the whole time, just sleep in, then do some low-energy chores, maybe take in a movie, then a nap. I'm wishing that this will give me enough energy to go the NOVA meeting on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Oh, Ocaml!

On the 10th, I checked my changes to the TeX files for Chapter 3 into remote CVS. Last night, my editing counterpart, Anders Selander, sent email with his suggestions, substantial and brilliant. I spent quite a while reading over his diffs carefully, adding my own comments and expanding. This morning I got his reply, converged on agreed changes, and shot off an email to him. I expect his changes will join mine shortly.

It's fun being a volunteer proofreader/technical editor!

P.S. - Ocaml is short for Objective Caml, which is a French derivation of ML, which is short for Meta-Language.

Get Back On That Horse

Pajama Sam is the man who brought Kelly to tears Sunday. Yesterday was a school holiday, so she stayed home with Jean. Punishment Weekend was over, so I expected to hear tales of ten-hour television marathons, but when I got home Kelly was playing Pajama Sam 3, and according to Jean, had been doing so most of the day.

She played on the new iMac, and when I tried to shut it down last night, it kept insisting that some application was holding resources such that it couldn't shut down. "Close the application and try again." But no application was open. Could Pajama Sam be responsible? Will he make me cry? I rebooted, then shut down, but time will tell...

Monday, November 12, 2001


Note to self: Do not post to your weblog when you are sick! You get all santimonious and stuff. Yuck.

Proud To Be

After seeing so many guileless declarations of patriotism of late, combined with the coercive rhetoric of the flag wavers, I have to take a stand, however small. I am not 'Proud to be an American'. I'm instead proud to be a thinking American. If I do not lead, follow or get out of the way, it is my right as an American, still. I don't simply kowtow to our appointed leader, but think for myself. If the President implies drilling in ANWR is patriotic, I am free to snort in disgust.

If you have a problem with that, then you're not much of an American, are you?

Weekly Update

When I'm under a pile of work, or feeling sick, or nursing a sick family, or just plain lazy (all too often), this weblog suffers. Considering that the last substantive post was two weeks ago, one might wonder what's up. Well, all of the above, really. So here's a quick recap of recent events.

Jean came down with a 48-hour influenza, and I had to take care of her and watch over Kelly when not working. The iMac is working out fine, I'm now at the stage of migrating software over when I discover I need it, about once every three or four days. I've finished my proofreading for the French Ocaml book, and am awaiting a second chapter assignment. I am now fighting something which may only be a vicious cold, but feels more virulent than that.

That's all the trivia dramatically compressed. Slowing down, I gotta note that this weekend was spent very quietly, as Kelly was having one of her more comprehensive punishments. She threw a wobbly at daycare on Friday which apparently lasted nearly an hour and inconvenienced a lot of folks. I tried to 'talk her down' over the phone, but she was inconsolable.

It seems she won a T-shirt from 'the reptile man', a guy who goes around the schools and daycares showing off snakes, lizards, turtles and such. But the teacher asked her not to wear it right away as it would make the other children feel bad. At this, Kelly launched into her fit, giving the teacher little room to back down.

So Jean and I had a talk with Kelly and decided her punishment. One hour of television a day for the whole weekend, and bed early every night. She got really bored, but we also told her it wouldn't be our job to entertain her during that time. I did take her down to Fry's to buy a new computer game, as she went through all her existing games, educational and otherwise, in her bid to fight off the boredom.

Playing the game turned out to be very enlightening, if a tad disappointing. She reached a point where she decided she wanted to go back to a 'save point', and she accidentally saved over the last save point, preventing her from going back. She completely fell apart! She was sobbing, and quickly escalated to jumping up and down, crying and more or less demanding that we magically restore her save point. We told her to calm down or go to her room.

Times like these remind me why I didn't want to be a parent (no, Kelly wasn't a 'love child', we chose to have her, after much discussion). But eventually she calmed down, and worked out a solution (play another game). Still, it made me question just how effective the punishment had been in making her introspect on her behavior. I did tell her that behavior like that was unacceptable. She understands that it's okay to have feelings, and even okay to cry, but not to try to bully others with her tears. But she still loses control of herself. I hope it's just a maturation issue.

Monday, November 5, 2001

Mac Daddy

Even temporarily losing the iBook annoyed the heck out of me, so I went digging into my fund bag and found enough money to buy another computer with a USB port (why, so we can print on our new, USB-only-connected printer, that's why!). I ended up buying an iMac, despite being a little peeved at Apple right now, understandably so, I might add. Reason for iMac, I have no expertise on Wintel boxes, and didn't have the time to become expert.

So now we have three Macs in the house: an 'old' Powermac 8500, the temporarily (crossed-fingers) out of service iBook, and an iMac. Jean tried installing one of her study programs on the iMac today, and did a double-take when it finished installing in an eyeblink (larger software packages may take longer, state and local taxes may apply, your mileage may vary). Truth is, even though this is only a single step above the low-end iMac, it's clock speed is over four times that of the Powermac that Jean has been using. So I expect her to be sitting at it quite a lot from now on.

Digital fansubs of anime also run smoother, as I found out when setting it up for this task. I watched episode one of Mahoromatic on full-screen mode and it was sharp and seamless. On my laptop, a file of this size would overwhelm the processor and bus, leading to frame drops and stutter. An even larger file, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, the new Cowboy Bebop movie, was totally smooth. I only watched the opening, but it's a hoot.

So anyway, I've been migrating tools and applications from the other two boxes (nursing the battery on the laptop until the replacement AC adapter arrives). Last night I booted into Mac OS X, the new os with the Unix underbody. I downloaded the free OS X developer kit from Apple, and proved that I can use remote CVS to download the TeX files for the book I'm proofreading. This will hopefully allow me to catch up from behind, as I'm not able to use remote cvs through the firewall at work, and using it on Agora is problematic as I have a 30 gig limit, and the source files for the book total more like 50 gigs. So w00t! I can do my final edits from home!

Thursday, November 1, 2001

On the Positive Side

Kelly and I defeated the Sewer Evil King in Okage. He was a giant rat, and the last two times we tried we got defeated, forcing us to start over from our most recent save point. So, HURRAY!

Trick-or-treating was a hoot this year. Kelly decided that shouting 'Trick or Treat!' at every door was boring, so she started asking people if they had any children. Sort of an informal survey. by the end I could tell she was getting tired (aside from the complaints of sore feet) since she actually rejected offers of extra candy (bucket too heavy) and started asking if people had particular types of candy instead of what they were offering.

Of course, nothing tops her 3-year old Halloween, when her deviation from the script was to shout to people "I want candy!"

Curse of Halloween

My laptop power supply died, sparking and smoking at the plug which attaches to the computer when I removed it last night! Now I have to get a new one. Ugh. Doing research on Apple's bulletin boards, it looks like they aren't taking responsibility for this one, even though tons of customers are reporting it. They may bow to pressure and do a recall eventually, but I need a power adapter now, not six months after the battery runs down. And of course I think I'm just outside the warranty period. I'll call 'em and try it, but I expect I'll be buying one myself...

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Okage Gets Spendy

I brought back Okage to the Blockbuster's yesterday evening. I've had a while to deliberate on it, having played by myself and with Kelly before and after the coast trip, and I came down on the side of buying it. True, it has some annoyances, and doesn't always challenge you. But I bought it for two primary reasons:

  • Despite it's shortcomings, I'm still entertained by it. The novelty of the characters and dialog has yet to wear thin, and the artwork is still delightful. I'm particularly pleased with the generally irreverent tone.

  • Kelly really enjoys it. Last night I even helped her learn the basic controls for fighting 'ghosts'. She wanted to spend the rest of the evening wandering around, tempting ghosts to attack her character, so she could blast them.

Admittedly, Kelly could lose interest well before the game is ended, but for now, Okage is amply repaying its hefty price tag. Now if I can just resist going back to Fry's and buying Oni now that it's price has fallen 60%...

The Hole I'm In

A large part of the 'hole I'm in' as mentioned below is due to Jean coming down with some sort of stomach flu shortly after our return. I spent all day Monday at home with her (I was sorta planning to take the time off anyway, but this way I was available to her). She was really knocked out, unable to do much other than vomiting and lying in bed. I took care of Kelly, both transporting her to and from school and feeding her, working through her homework, entertaining her, bathing and dental hygiene, the works.

Tuesday I took Kelly in, and went to work. Jean summoned enough energy to pick Kelly up from school, but soon discovered that she still had incredibly low reserves. So I had the entire evening routine to myself once again. I've been showing some symptoms of illness as well, so I'm taking extra care not to overwork or overplay myself, especially since this is a NOVA weekend coming up, and I expect we'll be seeing Jet Li's The One afterwards.

I feel guilty that I've only worked about one-third of the way through my volunteer proofreading job, but I think I'll get traction again at the start of next week. I have until November 9th to report back. But for tonight...Halloween! Kelly's going out as a bunny this year, though with her little bowtie and flouncy skirt, I'm not sure if that's actually supposed to be a Playboy bunny. Don't tell Jean I said that! .

Coast Report

Well, we went on a trip to the coast! I took Friday off so I could pack, shop for goodies, and get in a round of back-strengthening exercise before the trip. We left on Saturday morning and headed to Tillamook. Our first stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was billed as having a 'self-guided' tour, which apparently means just walking around the building, looking at 'cheesy' dioramas and sampling cheese. They had squeaky cheese! I love that stuff!

Anyway, there was a second-floor overlook of the factory itself, and that was the cool part. I tried to take a few pictures with the digital camera, so we'll see how they came out when I dig out of the hole I'm in. As we left, we passed by the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which has wine and cheese tasting, but Jean said 'save it for next trip.' We're also saving the Latimer Quilt and Textile Museum, located nearby. I think it will be fun, despite the fact that most of these coastal museums are the historical equivalent of petting zoos.

Next on the agenda was the Tillamook Air Museum. Many more photos taken which I'll try to post. Kelly went absolutely gonzo over the trainers, making Jean sit beside her in a helicopter trainer and a jet trainer (even though they didn't work). We had lunch there, which was pretty good. My only complaint is that the website I found the museum on promotes it as the "Blimp Hangar Museum", which I think I can be forgiven for thinking promised some blimps. In fact, the museum is in a blimp hangar, and while there are dozens of planes, there is only one, contemporary, blimp; a tiny one at that. Oh, well, more petting zoo advertising...

We drove South to Lincoln City, and checked into our hotel. Sorry, nothing picturesque, like McCoy's Hideaway, where we stayed maybe seven years ago. This time it was a Best Western, chosen for the fact that it had an indoor pool, a Kelly requirement. No fancy dining either. We walked down the street to a Subway's and got subs for dinner.

The following morning I insisted on walking to the beach, about a fifteen minute walk. Boy is Kelly a sissy! I had to carry her on my shoulders part of the way, which turned out to be a mistake. My strength training exercises apparently don't prepare me for lifting a flailing package of 55 pounds over my head and resting it on my shoulders while walking. I pulled my shoulder, nothing serious, but I've had to lay of strength training for the week. When we got to the beach, Kelly had to stop about every five feet to take off her shoes and empty out the sand. As it was morning I didn't suggest that she simply take her shoes off. Next time, I'll make sure we have a pair of Aquasocks or such-like.

After a breakfast at Subway's at Kelly's insistence, we drove down the coast to Newport for our next-to-last touristy stop, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I've never been there before, and it was great. Kelly liked it as well. In addition to looking at all the cool animals, we actually got to touch starfish and sea cucumbers. That was truly neat. Kelly was absolutely cackling with joy watching the seals and sea lions swimming in their habitat. I'm sorry to say that the sea otter display was closed. We ate lunch there, then headed back up the coast to go home.

But first, we stopped by the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This is a neat little lighthouse which looks more like a schoolhouse (Little House on the Prairie style). It was apparently closed only three years after commissioning, as there was a much better lighthouse just up the coast (which we're saving for our next coast trip).

After the lighthouse we made our way home, unpacking all the loot which Kelly collected on the way, then setttling in and decompressing. One of the more interesting facts about our trip is that it was the first one in six years. The last time we went Jean was six months pregnant with Kelly. So we told Kelly that she'd been to the coast before, but hadn't seen too much of it .

Friday, October 26, 2001

Okage On The Cheap

Well, the images kept popping up in my head, so I made up my mind to get Okage and play it. But first I did the consumer due-diligence thing and looked up a number of reviews. They mostly all agreed: the artwork is charming, the dialogs humorous, but the game is standard to sub-standard RPG.

Given this, I really didn't want to take a chance on the game being a bomb, and blowing a big chunk of change on it. So instead I went to the local Blockbuster Video and checked their stock of video games. Sure enough, they had it and I rented it: $5 for five days. I played some last night and I'll play some more today (I'm taking FTO to pack for our trip to the coast). Then I expect I'll play a bit more on Monday before taking it back on Tuesday. By that time I'll know if I want to rent it again, buy it, or drop it.

The report so far is that it is amusing but unremarkable. Definitely not up there with Final Fantasy, but so far seemingly worth a $5 rental fee.

Monday, October 22, 2001

Simile of the Day

"When Bush ... furrows his brow like a serious Muppet"

If you believe in unquestioning support of the government in times of strife, don't read this article. But it's so damn full of humorous playful colorful turns of phrase that I just had to share.

Thanks Brenda

I guess someone is reading this weblog. Mere hours after I posted my dilemma reaching my Dad, he called back, saying that Brenda had read my post and called him. Turns out he's in Michigan for the rest of the week, playing chicken with the next snowstorm before fleeing to sunny Florida.

Anyway, thanks Brenda.

Sunday, October 21, 2001


Last night was a NOVA evening. Amidst all the other viewing and socializing activities, Alan set up his laptop and we showed my copy of Shaolin Soccer, which I've been saving for a NOVA meeting since I suspected it would be a lot of fun. I was not disappointed. It was howlingly funny, perhaps even more fun than God of Cookery, the other Stephen Chow movie I've seen so far. I've already got a queue of two people in line to borrow it, and I wish I hadn't agreed to, as I'm now pining to watch it again myself. Boo hoo, poor me.

After the meeting we went to the Tigard Cinema to watch Iron Monkey, another movie I own on DVD, but which I was pleased to see on the big screen. I was even more pleased to see that it was subtitled, with the original Cantonese voice track. Whatever was Miramax thinking? Anyway, it looked great on the big screen, and everybody who went seemed to enjoy it. Next NOVA meeting is November 3rd, just in time for Jet Li in The One, which looks to be a hoot, a flying people movie in a Matrix-grade special effects mode.

Another Self-assigned Project

Every week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I stay after work to study. I do this to challenge myself and keep my edge, now that I'm several years beyond getting my Master's degree. Sometimes I study functional programming, reading texts, technical papers and the like, and writing small programs. One of the functional programming languages I study is Ocaml, or Objective Caml. It is a derivative of ML, developed in France.

For several years now, below the radar, there has been an effort to translate one of the more popular books on Ocaml written in French into the English language. It is called D�veloppement d'applications avec Objective Caml. Well, apparently the translation has proceeded far enough to expose it a little, as a call went out recently on the functional programming Usenet groups for proofreaders. And I volunteered! So now I'll be trying to spend some of my self-study time working through my assigned proofreading tasks. I'm pretty excited about it.

PS2 Games

Sony just sent me a CD-ROM full of demos of new games for the PS2. I was fiddling with them, and Kelly wanted to watch me play. She likes Klonoa 2, mostly for the cute character who runs the gauntlet of this platform game. I admit it is cute, but I'm not so much into platform games any more, I suppose since my reflexes suck so bad. I think Jean would enjoy it, but I'm not really into dropping a big chunk of change on a game that I'm not gonna play, and which Jean will only play over school breaks.

More to my liking is Ico, which is a role-playing/puzzle-solving game. The demo is woefully limited though, giving only a tiny hint of what might be it's potential. I did discover that you can make Ico run in frantic circles rather like Curly in the Three Stooges, much to the delight of Kelly. My friend Alan Matzka assures me that this game is for me, so I'll add it to the queue of potential purchases over the next few months.

I also enjoyed Portal Runner. I was amused to read that this is a spin-off of another game that I've seen on the shelf and had no interest in. The demo is once again terribly limited and brief, but I thought it was fun. No, I haven't been able to crack the demo level supplied. Are you surprised?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm very tempted by Okage: Shadow King. The artwork looks very much like Tim Burton's puppet designs, such as are found in The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I find very appealing. Reviews suggest it is a simple game, with a weird sense of humor, but not too complex. Given my limited gaming skills, that actually sounds nice.

I set myself a little task of writing a grocery shopping program using only Python and the W toolkit, a Macintosh-specific graphical toolkit designed by Just Van Rossum, the brother of Guido Van Rossum, who created Python. W sucks as a widget toolkit, in that one must specify exact coordinates for all widgets. There's no packing manager concept in W.

Why did I do this? Two reasons. First, I wanted to brush up my Python skills for upcoming work at work. Second, I actually thought a program for accumulating a list of items over the week and printing them neatly before shopping would be neat. And it is! God, I'm such a geek! Please help me?

Cry In The Darkness

Well, I tried. I finally emptied my queue of all the chores, self-assigned tasks and exhaustion, so I had time to call my Dad back today. He is, as far as I know, in Canada right now. I tried calling the number I have for him there, and got a message from 'Bell Canada' that the number has been temporarily disconnected at the request of the customer.

So this is really a shout to my sister to ask her to let Dad know that I seem to have an old, stale number for Canada.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Chicken Dance Clarification

I asked Kelly last night to do her version of the Chicken Dance so I could see what the Oktoberfest band was doing 'wrong'. It was pretty funny seing her do it. Looks as if the moves are the same and the music is the same. The only change is that you replace the lyrics with chicken sounds:

Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! BUCK-BUCK buck-buck buck!

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Posted Because It's Just Too Damn Cute

Mamma Liberty

Quickie Update

I realized I hadn't posted an update for several days, directly on the heels of giving blood. So no, I didn't pass out and only just awake. I've been tres busy lately, that's all. Brief update:

Thursday afternoon took Kelly to the Mentor version of Oktoberfest. I've been to more of these than I can count, but Kelly keeps it new. She ran up to the 'dance floor' (a cleared space in the cafeteria in front of the polka band) and did the Chicken Dance. According to her, the band "did it wrong."

Friday evening we took her over to have dinner with her friend Trinity, whose birthday it was.

Saturday was swim class, in addition to all the usual chores.

Sunday I took her to free swim, as well as doing all my chores and entertaining her while Jean studied for two tests and a quiz this week.

And of course there's been work. So when you add in the coverage of Kelly while Jean has been studying, I haven't really had time to post. Posting now is just to reassure everyone in the family I'm not dead.

Jean did well on her tests, Kelly seems to be coming down with a cold, and if I can ever get any time to myself, I'm going to try out the playable demos for the PS2 that got sent in the mail. The ones which seemed interesting after a brief glimpse: Klonoa, Ico, Portal Runner. Not playable but seemingly interesting from the video demo: Okage, the Shadow King.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Overcoming Phobias

I gave blood today. For the first time in my life. I was spurred by the September 11 crimes to try to contribute something meaningful, and I knew my workplace would be holding a blood drive, so I committed to do it.

I can't tell you how much I hate needles. The only thing which causes me more anxiety is agressive stinging insects such as wasps. I walked over to the Commons to sign up, and I felt like I was marching to my own doom. When I started reading the info form, the volunteer asked me what my name was. I told him, and he said I wasn't on 'the list'.

"There's a list?" I thought. Next to me was a coworker, Brent, reading the same pamphlet.

The volunteer said, "we're all full for the day, sorry."

"Oh, well," I said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Then Brent pipes up with "it asks here if I've ever had malaria. I don't know, but I think I might have." How do you not know if you've had malaria before?

Moments later, Brent was walking out the door, and the volunteer was saying "looks like we have an opening." My heartrate started to go up again. Man did I feel queasy. I really felt like I was coming down with the flu right there. But I started going through the gauntlet, and maybe thirty minutes later I was walking back to my office, with a rather conspicuous blue elastic bandage wrapped around my elbow.

So I got on that horse, right? I conquered my irrational fear and now everything's fine? No way! I've got on the order of eight weeks while my body rebuilds red blood cells to think about whether I want to put myself through this again. And right now, I just don't know if I want to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

<A HREF="">Michael Moore On Current Events</A>

"Dick Cheney Has Been Moved Into Hiding Again. This can only help. The farther this mastermind can be kept from young Bush, the better. He's like that creepy friend of your dad's who has taken a bit too much of a shine to you. Wait -- he *is* that creepy friend of his dad's!"

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Hello, Kitty

I took Kelly to Ibach Park on Sunday, where she had the park to herself for the first ten minutes, as it had rained recently. Then a father and two daughters showed up, and Kelly went into overdrive, enlisting the younger daughter in her games. As usual, Kelly is surprisingly extroverted considering her parents.

Later we went to Kinokuniya to pick up a new volume of Card Captor Sakura for bedtime stories, and incidentally had the chance to cruise the First Annual Festival Japan. I wanted to spend some time wandering the booths, but with Kelly in tow, it was pretty hard. She only wanted to play the kids' games. I got her to slow down long enough to look at the koi display, but had to skip most of what interested me.

The highlight of the trip for Kelly though, was the presence of a person walking around in a Hello, Kitty costume. She was gushing and cooing over this person, and ran up and gave Kitty a huge, lingering hug. Ah, the simple pleasures of life!


One part of the American immune system is now clearly on full alert. A man attempting to enter an American Airlines cockpit was overpowered by passengers, and successully conveyed to authorities. It seems he was mentally disturbed and thought terrorists were steering the plane toward the Sears Tower.

Add this to the flight recorder evidence for passenger intervention on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11th, and it's clear that one avenue of terrorism, and hijacking in general, is closed forever.

Sunday, October 7, 2001

A Year of Weblogging

Not one for making a big deal of arbitrary anniversaries, I totally snoozed through this one. On October 4th, 2000, I first started posting to Terebi I. I've since changed locations, domains and software, but at one year, I still have a little steam left.

Keep On Truckin'.

Thursday, October 4, 2001

More On Islam (Economics, this time)

"There are two strains of commentary about the Islamic world emerging in the current tensions. One, which is despicable, suggests that the "west" (as if that is a monolithic concept) is innately superior to other societies. The second, which is honest, explores why many of the states in the Islamic world are failing in economic and social terms."

Two new links on Islamic countries for my later informed reading, picked up from Davos Newbies:

The Economic Failure of Islam

Muslim societies need to deal with their own failure

Not That I'm Counting...

...but the requirements for my current work project have changed again, for the fifth time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Anchors Aweigh!

Or, "Casting Off Stitches for the Terminally Clumsy." Yeah, that's right, I finished off the knitting project last night. Kelly sat close at my right elbow, making it even more cumbersome to finish off, but I wanted to let her participate as much as she desired. She did one stitch, leaving it to me to cast it off.

And as I predicted, after playing with the resulting 'blanky' for ten minutes, it was lying in a corner like so much trash. I told her that if she desired to do more knitting in the future I'd be happy to help, but I didn't encourage her. I did emphasize that if she wanted to crochet, that was something she'd be doing with her mom, since Daddy's fingers are way too big for that!

So I'm putting away the needles, and hoping this is the last of that for awhile. I have to admit thought, that I got a sort of perverse pleasure from taking 'my' knitting along to public places and pulling it out to work on. I did that at the YMCA pool during Kelly's swim class, and while I doubt anyone gave it a second thought, it was fun to be the big flabby guy with a ball of yarn in his lap.

After we finished knitting, I fixed my dinner and Kelly proceeded to tie irrevocable knots into the remaining yarn. I reminded her that I had some lengths of cord in a drawer for practicing tying knots, and she jumped on that immediately. I showed her the square knot, the granny knot, the half-hitch and slip knot, and in no time she was spinning lassoes over her head in true rootin' tootin' spirit. I'm guessing that she's not going to be interested in detailed knot learning for some time yet.

Bad Metaphor of the Day

NPR sports commentator Frank Deford is often thoughtful, given to colorful metaphor, and notable for his thoughts on the social impact and philosophy of sports; enough so that I can often overcome my total disinterest in sports to give him a listen as I drive to work in the morning.

This morning, however, he pulled a metaphor while waxing eloquent about the Seattle Mariners which left me scratching my head for a minute or two. Referring to the potential loss of audience that the Mariners suffer from by being on the Left Coast, he labelled Seattle:

"The return-address corner of the Republic."

Huh? Okay, I got it, but it was so 'left-field' that it took me a minute. Try again, Frank.

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

We Were <em>Gonna</em> Do It Anyway!

Before Attacks, U.S. Was Ready to Say It Backed Palestinian State. Given the behavior I've seen from Colin Powell in recent months, I'd certainly believe he was for brokering such a peace plan, but George W.? Nah.

By the way, Powell was the general I most respected after Desert Storm. All that he has tried to do as Secretary of State, and not just since September 11th, have only increased that respect.

Monday, October 1, 2001

<A HREF="">Categories</A> For Dummies

A while ago I bought Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists, choosing it over Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories on the basis of a discussion on the comp.lang.functional Usenet news group. According to Mike Kent, "coverage is idiosyncratic" in Conceptual Mathematics, while Basic Category Theory covers "enough (and the right) topics so that you can grok the category theory that underlies various areas/approaches in CS."

Well, after some careful reading, I came to the conclusion that Basic Category Theory was too terse, and assumed too much. So I bought Conceptual Mathematics too, knowing full well that it "introduces topoi, doesn't even define adjoints, and mentions functors only in the fleetest passing." I figure I'll try to grok what Lawvere has to say, then fill out the missing pieces from Pierce. The working approach here is to use the incomplete but verbose book to get grounded in the language and background, then use the terse but complete book to fill in the gaps. Wish me luck.

Muffler At The End Of The Tunnel

My little yarn ball is getting smaller and smaller. I watched a Buffy re-run and an episode of Stargate SG-1 while knitting last night (after putting everybody to bed). Strangely, I've never had wrist pain in my left wrist from typing, but I'm getting a little from knitting.

I estimated roughly how much yarn goes into a single row of this 'starter' project. Since Kelly really crammed the stitches on, it probably takes more than the average project. It seems to need around 12 needle-lengths, which doesn't seem right, since these are ten inch needles. That'd be ten feet. Just saying it makes me think I did something wrong in my estimates. Anyway, with that estimate, I think I've got between five and ten more rows to go before I need to 'cast off stitches' and tie that thing off. Frankly, I can't wait. If Kelly wants to knit again, she's gonna have to do it all herself. But for right now she's clearly lost interest.

New Convert

Or she's just humoring me. We went to Mugi last night! Jean had the softshell crab roll and said it was wonderful. Kelly went totally off the deep end over the ... sticky rice! She ate a few other things, but she did in nearly a bowl of sticky rice, and asked Jean if she knew how to make more at home. I told her I did, and knew of a recipe for it on So now I get to learn how to make it right.

Best Buffy Rerun Line

The first couple of seasons of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer take place at Sunnydale High School and surroundings. The conceit is that the area is infested with vampires, Buffy and her friends fight them, and nobody else seems to notice...

High school jock: "This year, football is gonna be awesome! If we can just maintain focus, be disciplined ... and not have quite so many mysterious deaths ... Sunnydale is gonna rule!"

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Crab Trek

I waxed so long and eloquent on the topic of Mugi that Jean decided she wanted to try it for herself (it was one of her teachers who made the recommendation originally). So we hauled ourselves there yesterday, only to find that they don't do lunch. We ended up going to a salad buffet restaurant called Sweet Tomatoes.

At the restaurant we got to talking about various adages and idioms, to see which ones Kelly knew, and if she could figure out the others. "A stitch in time saves nine", "little pitchers have big ears" and of course, "the walls have ears." Curiously, that last one showed up on a documentary on television the same evening.

Anyway, I'm not giving up. We're shooting for Mugi for dinner tonight.

Sleep Deprivation

Jean was waking me all through the night (I vaguely recall out of the haze):



"You're snoring."




"You're snoring again."

Ad nauseum. If I wanted a weather report (slightly snorey with a chance of drool) I'd have slept in front of the television.

Visit To An Old Friend

We finally have booked some time to go to the coast, a mere six and a half years after our last visit. Jean was in her final few months of pregnancy the last time we went. The plan is to make it a weekend only trip, driving out on Saturday the 27th of October to Tilllamook, to visit the creamery. Then we'll hit the beach, then drive down to Lincoln City to check into our hotel for the evening. A dinner out is all we've planned then. Sunday morning we're going to drive down to Newport and visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Only four weeks to go! W00t!

Saturday, September 29, 2001

New Banner

Today's copyright infringement comes from National Geographic Magazine. It is the left half of a larger image. If you wanna see the whole thing, buy the October issue .

Knitting Emasculates My Dreams?

Jean woke me up this morning, for which I should be thankful. Otherwise, I wouldn't have remembered the dream I was having.

In my dream, I was talking to a young woman working in a bookstore. She told me that she hadn't been able to update her weblog due to problems with her ISP. And they, it seemed, couldn't help her with her problems in the immediate future because they were all working second jobs at K-Mart, where they were currently wrapped up in the annual cleaning of the hems of dresses.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Strengthening 'International Literacy'

On, Rafe Colburn has posted links and suggestions on sources of information and news regarding the world outside our doorstep. I'm linking it here for my own reference.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

School Daze

Trite, but true. I had the task of attending the Bridgeport Parent-Teacher event last night. Ugh. Did I learn anything? Maybe, but things could have been streamlined down to a half hour, rather than the hour and a quarter that they actually took. I heard lots of stuff I didn't care about but which was clearly important to the Principal.

Second half of the event was 'meeting' your child's teacher. This consisted of sitting in tiny chairs while she droned on about her teaching philosophy and what she expects and doesn't from your child. I had to struggle to stay awake. She remarked time and again how lenient she was about spelling, exploring sentence structure, guessing words while reading, etc. It's all part of the growth stage. But then she springs that she is a 'stickler for handwriting'. Yuck! My opinion is that handwriting is irrelevant. So the one thing she thinks is important I find a waste of time. Teach then keyboarding, dummy! Sorry. I'll sit down now.

I have no penmanship, and it's never made a difference in my life. But touch typing, even done slowly and poorly, really helps me in my work. So I'm prejudiced. Especially since I went through the whole 'penmanship is important' crap when I was growing up as well. How can I be a good citizen if I can't write a letter with a pleasing flourish? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Sushi Heaven

As I mentioned, Saturday was a NOVA meeting. Tom was off socializing with Sakura Con folks, so he missed out on the field trip to one of our favorite restaurants, Mugi. The review I just linked to mentions one of their heavenly specialties, Softshell Crab Roll. If you are ever in the area, go to Mugi for this alone. They always take awhile to serve, but it is worth the wait.

Also mentioned in the review is I Love Sushi, which I've been to a few times but not recently. It's also really good, and the dessert, Green Tea Ice Cream, is too cool to be missed.

In the past few years, I've gained a bit of weight. Perhaps now you can see why .

Friday, September 21, 2001

Rain Nor Sleet

It's been just two days since I ordered my DVDs, and they're here! Turns out Poker Industries sent them Priority Mail. I guess they're trying to reassure their customer base, since they are an East Coast company (New Joyzey!). Anyway, I'm happy and will probably watch one of them on Sunday.

I'd watch one tonight but I have to take Kelly to swim class tomorrow morning. She's a Minnow! And I don't think I'll have time later tomorrow due to grocery and such, and Saturday evening is a NOVA night. So Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Thursday, September 20, 2001


From Noir, episode 2:

"Your work always lacks a certain elegance."

New Headphones

I've had two pairs of headphones for the longest time, one pair recently lost (how do you lose headphones? Sunglasses, I understand, but headphones? Okay, they were those tiny kind, but still...), the other developing a short in one earpiece. Very annoying. So yesterday I went to Fry's after work and picked up a new pair to use with my laptop.

They're Philips SBC HS500 lightweight headphones, where the earpiece passes behind the head. The sound is so much better than the old ones. I swear they boost the bass somehow, but that's okay. I'm listening to some of my CDs which I ripped to my laptop for convenient listening while working on stuff, such as Macintosh Python programming, which I was doing until I got overwhelmed with listening to cool stuff on my laptop .

The Story of Ricky

Just in case you think all I do is knit, I also watch bad movies. As the Fall television season approaches most of the Summer replacements are drifting into re-runs, so I've less to watch unless I yet again lower the bar. Instead, I've started watching some of the HK movies in my backlog pile. I also have a bunch of anime in my backlog pile, but the main one I want to watch, Noir, has such small subtitles that it is difficult to watch unless I'm on the floor right in front of the television. This of course makes it difficult to knit .

So yesterday evening I fired up the PS2 and put in Ricky O. I bought this on the strength of a multitude of reviews rating it the most awful, cheesy, stupid martial arts movie ever made (and the fact that it has a lengthy cameo by Yukari Oshima as a vicious prison guard). Well, the reality exceeded all my expectations. This is a horrible movie, and in the right company, I could easily be hospitalized from laughing too much.

My advice, skip everything but the Yukari Oshima scenes, and the penultimate scene involving the battle between Ricky and the warden. He transforms into a cartoonish overmuscled, pointy teethed Kung-Fu Demon. Sorta like the Incredible Hulk, only not green, and balding. Nothing else in the movie can top that. There, I'm speechless...

Knitting and Knotting

Last night was a self-directed study night (self-study for short), so I got home maybe a half-hour before Kelly's bedtime. Since I wasn't available for knitting after dinner, she elected to knit instead of having me read her a story.

She's got all the gross motor skills of a six-year old. She holds the needles in mid-air, rather than resting them on her legs or otherwise stabilizing them, while she laboriously stabs one needle through a loop of yarn on the other. Taking up the free strand of yarn, she wraps it somewhat more delicately than her earlier stab. But then she stretches the loop with her fingers and pulls through the new strand, removing the needle from the original loop. Finally, she grabs the loop on the left needle and drags it off the needle. "Done! Your turn," she says. I then do two stitches while she watches closely to observe my technique, and encourages me with warm words: "You're doing good, Daddy!"

I observe the typically coarse motor skills she uses when knitting her stitch to contrast it with the clear and obvious knowledge of the stitch sequence itself. She struggles to complete the loop, but has no trouble understanding what to do to add another stitch. She grasps the topology of the single thread of yarn looping back and into itself intuitively.

When I was her age (perhaps a bit older), I had two books I wish I still had. I don't even recall their titles. One was a book of knots, with beautiful sequential illustrations of the construction of a plethora of knots. The other was an exhaustive exploration of cat's cradles and other string figures. I think Kelly is ready for the knots book right now, though the more daunting cat's cradles would certainly interest her more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Islam Week On Lake Effect

Dan Hartung is using his website, Lake Effect, as a platform for education on Islam, to help people distinguish between extremist fundamentalists in the religion, and the majority of peace-loving Muslims.

Since he doesn't have direct links by day, and I'm posting this to let me quickly get back to the relevant links, here are the article links from the first three days:

Knitting Language

Kelly and I had a successful first experience in the world of knitting. I used a tutorial I found on the Internet, and with a few stumbles, we got off and running.

The first step in knitting is getting yarn loaded onto the 'left' needle. This is called 'casting on stitches'. I showed Kelly how, and she was anxious to try for herself. With a little practice, she was able to do it without help. I had to remind her frequently not to tighten the stitches, so the other needle could be inserted. It helped that I was able to tell her that I made the same mistakes (over and over) when I was her age, learning from my mother. She wasn't so self-conscious knowing that I'd been there, and wasn't just being critical. We actually worked out a system where she'd start casting a stitch, and I'd say 'stop' when it was as tight as it should be.

Once she had the needle full of stitches, she thought she was done! She said, "okay, let's make a rabbit!" I had to explain to her that this was just the first step. Actually knitting took me a couple of tries, and I had to call Jean in to have her try it too. Turns out she wasn't sure herself, so I read the tutorial carefully, and finally figured it out. Kelly was a little more daunted by this step, since it takes considerably more dexterity and attention to get it right. But with my help holding the needles (they're 10", a little to big for her to handle on her own), she was able to do knit stitches. We were taking turns doing stitches until it was time for her bath. She wants to do more tonight.

For now we're sticking with the basic stitch called the 'garter stitch', and I'll worry about the possibility of introducing the 'purl stitch' if it becomes clear that this is more than a passing fad for Kelly. I suspect she'll lose interest when she discovers that she can't 'knit a bunny' in a day.

I did my strength training after I put her to bed, then took a shower, then went downstairs and knit three more rows with the television running, so she'd get a sense of progress, however false. How's that for devotion?

Just Ordered

I just placed an order at Poker Industries for Shaolin Soccer, starring Stephen Chow, and Attack the Gas Station, a Korean action/comedy. The latter is only my second foray into the realm of region-controlled DVDs. Now that I've got my DVD Region X, I'm looking forward to many more.

Not Bin Laden?

Jane's Security, a branch of the sprawling military news and analysis company, reports that Iraeli military intelligence suspects Iraq was responsible for 9-11.

"We?ve only got scraps of information, not the full picture," admits one intelligence source, "but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected."

Note that one of the key individuals mentioned is a protege of Bin Laden and suspected to be his successor when he dies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

More Crafts Ahoy

As I mentioned earlier, I've been doing more craft-oriented tasks with Kelly of late (pot-holder looms and sewing sock bunnies). So imagine my joy to discover that she's now interested in taking up knitting (probably for all of two days), and she wants me to do it with her.

Jean bought the knitting needles, and I went to several sites on the Internet to refresh my memories on the basic technique. It's much as I remember it from when my mother taught me as a child. It remains to be seen if I have sufficient dexterity to actually carry it off, though. I think we'll be giving it a try tonight, so perhaps there'll be something to report by tomorrow.