Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Jean Mots

Lately Jean has just been dropping the curiously funny phrase every day. Before sharing this one, I'll set the stage.

For as long as I've known Jean, she's had migraines. Bad ones. Ones that send her into a darkened room to lie quietly for hours. These migraines take their toll, and leave little energy for everyday life. Since she could get two or three a week during a bad week, that meant she was always playing catch-up.

Over the years, medications for migraines have improved, certainly becoming less toxic, making the trade-offs more palateable. But none of the meds sufficed to truly control Jean's migraines. But this last year has been different. After working with her doctor to gradually try out an array of new drugs, some of which gave her nightmares so severe and disturbing that she had to get off them, she now has meds that are very effective.

She can go weeks without having a single migraine (the record was eleven weeks). She still is prey to ordinary pedestrian headaches, but after years of migraines, those are merely tiring, not oppressive. So now her body has resources to fight all the other things, allergies, colds and flus, that she normally had no energy left to fight. Result: happy Jean.

She told me last night she is waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I'll be sitting there, thinking about something, and the sky will open up, as if the sun is coming out of the clouds. Only it isn't cloudy. Maybe I'm not even outdoors at the time." So the pessimistic part of her says, "it's probably a stroke." But she knows that it is probably just that she has resources and energy she never had before.

Now to the bon mot of the week. She said these sudden onslaughts of happiness are unpredictable, and so far not followed by corresponding depressions, so no developing bi-polar disorder. Instead, she says, "It's like I've been hit with the Rubber Chicken of Happiness." "qbullet.smiley"

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Superbowl Jews

The above title isn't meant as a slur on Jews. Rather, it refers to the fact that Jews celebrate Hannukah, Christians celebrate Christmas, and the dominant media shitstorm is all about Christmas. By extension, I don't care about sports, nor does Jean. Superbowl is now referred to by many in the media as a national holiday, "bringing everyone together in a common experience." Um, excuse me?

So in the spirit of being a sports apatheist family we went out for dinner during the game. Yeatsy's is a restaurant in Lake Grove, serving Mexican food, though rather richer than what I think of as 'real' Mexican. I had Pollo Asado, Jean had a Spinach Salad, and Kelly had a Soft Taco with beans, cheese and black olives. Much more fun than watching football or commercials!

Fair credit, Jean came up with the Jews and Christmas analogy, and the label 'Superbowl Jews'.

Saturday, January 27, 2001

Tonight's Music

If you've never heard of Danny Elfman, he is most recently known as a film score composer. He's done the music for movies Batman, Darkman, Peewee's Big Adventure, Good Will Hunting and many more. On television, he's done the theme for Tales From the Crypt and The Simpsons.

But before he was a movie composer, he was the creative genius behind Oingo Boingo. This was a pop band with a seriously goofy attitude during the 80's. So tonight I'm listening to a song which is credited to Oingo Boingo, but which was also the theme to a very popular movie of the 80's, Weird Science.

Before that, if you didn't think that was strange enough, I was listening to After the Flesh, by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. This song was featured in the movie The Crow, and was the song which made me seek out more music by the group. I've got their album Confessions of a Knife, but this song is from Napster. Deal.

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

On the way home from our Saturday walk, somehow the subject of surveys entered the conversation, and Kelly wanted to know what a survey was. We explained to her, down to the notion of asking multiple choice questions to make it easier to collate data from tons of people. She was fascinated, and asked if I would "give her a survey" when we got home. I agreed, but she and I got sidetracked going to McDonald's.

When we got home, Jean and Kelly started playing indoor soccer with a punch-balloon. By the time that was over, it was time for Kelly to take her shower, then clean up her toys, then have her teeth cleaned, and by that time it was time for bed. She was disappointed that she hadn't gotten a survey, so she decided that I should give her one instead of reading to her. So I just started making up multiple-choice questions on the fly.

An example: "If you had to eat something yucky from the following list, which would it be? A worm (yuck!); boiled spinach (eeewww!); spoiled milk (uuggh!); a frog (puke!)." Kelly replied "I'll drink the spoiled milk!"

Another example: "If you could travel to one of the following countries, which would it be? Japan, Italy, England, or Mexico." Kelly immediately replied "Mexico!" and began to improvise a mariachi song. I enjoyed it, but I only later realized that she was trying to imitate the music she had heard at Mentor during the Cinco de Mayo celebration held there. After a little thought it occurred to me that if I'd offered her the choice of Germany she might have chosen that as well, since Mentor also has an Oktoberfest celebration.

All in all, the survey was a huge success, and Kelly has asked to have another survey for bedtime tomorrow night.

They Call Me Trinity

Kelly's friend Trinity came to visit today. I missed the first few minutes 'cause I did the grocering, but Jean tells me that Kelly was so excited to have Trinity over that she couldn't bring herself to eat a breakfast. This showed, because Kelly was very possessive of her toys the whole morning. I tried to intervene a few times, but this only made things worse.

Trinity is from Kelly's daycare, The Kid Connection. Jean says that the teachers there have told her that Kelly and Trinity are cut from the same cloth, both possessive, both gregarious. So when I came down on Kelly to behave and share her toys, Trinity twigged to it immediately, and began complaining that Kelly wasn't sharing, over every little thing.

We broke for lunch, and fed the kids PB&J sandwiches, chocolate milk, Cheetos, and for dessert, mint chocolate cookies and orange sherbet. That seemed to help, as Kelly became a little easier to live with after lunch. I wised up and took myself out of the mediation game. Shortly after, sitting in the den playing with my Pilot PDA, while Jean wrote on the computer, we heard Kelly and Trinity playing nice as you could wish.

Trinity's dad had never met us before, but he must be a trusting individual. He dropped Trinity off at 10:15am, and picked her up at about 2:45pm. I'd be a little nervous dropping Kelly off at someone else's house and leaving her there for four and a half hours. Even when I've known the parents, the first visit to their house was limited to about two hours. Guess I'm a conservative at heart "qbullet.smiley".

Friday, January 26, 2001

Toy Jail Parole

Kelly ate her breakfast completely for the last few days. Unicorn is out of jail. Kelly is very proud of herself.

A side-effect, I think, is that Kelly has been striving to be helpful the last few days. I don't know how long that's gonna last.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Synchronicity Is My Middle Name

As I was riding home last night, I caught a short segment on Fresh Air about Bing Crosby. The guest made the case that Bing Crosby was, in his early years, something of a radical, introducing swing into a stodgier orchestral milieu. Unfortunately I didn't catch the guest's name. What I did catch was a rendition of From Morning On, which starts out as a corny barbershop tune, and transforms into a much more up tempo swing number.

I went home and immediately tried searching for it on Napster. I succeeded, and gave it another listen. It's actually pretty cool. I've since tracked it down to several CD's, so I'll probably be picking one up, such as Bix and Bing.

So now for the synchronicity. I was browsing Robot Wisdom during my lunch, when what should I see but a pointer to a review of a book on Bing Crosby by Gary Giddens called A Pocket Full of Dreams. That's not the full title, you can get that from the Atlantic Monthly book review pointed to above. In any case, the guest on Fresh Air was Gary Giddens. The synchronicity is not that I spotted two instances of an author flogging his new book, but rather that I spotted one instance on a snob radio show, and the other on an eclectic weblog. Go figger "qbullet.smiley".

Terebi Dodges a Bullet

Dave Winer writes on Scripting News:

...Anyway, one of our machines is offline, the one hosting EditThisPage.Com, and a bunch of user sites. We will probably have to restore from a backup, but we're not totally sure at this time. We're going to find out how good our backup system is...

Dave's company, Userland, runs three (free!) weblogging sites (albeit running the same server software):, and It's the third site which took the hit, but it coulda been me! I gotta figure out how to back up this site...

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Exodus Synchronicity

Funny thing. As I was driving home last night, I was listening to NPR News, and they were doing an in-depth story on the California power crunch. One of their tidbits was an interview with an executive of Exodus, who assured the interviewer that they had their own diesel generators ready to go online for each cluster of servers they own.

So I don't know why things have been so sluggish of late.

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Kaiju Best Fighto!

Kaiju means "mysterious beast" in Japanese, and is also the source of inspiration of Kaiju Big Battel. Created by the Borden brothers, and supported by a fleet of actors, cameramen, set and costume builders and more, this Boston-based performance group puts on a unique form of entertainment.

From their website, we learn:

What is Kaiju Big Battel?

Look out! Danger Can Happen! Kaiju have the many monsters which
are making destruction the whole city! Also in the fair fight, the
referee Justice keeping Dr. Cube from throw building at the mighty
Silver Potato! See bizarre wrestling matches between gigantic
absurd monsters! Watch Tokyo-style monster movie erupt into real
life performance-art lunacy! Shudder as Hell Monkey plucks the
wings off American Beetle, while Club Sandwich liquefies Kung-fu
Chicken Soup! Buy our monster-produced fashion accessories and
novelty items! Collect them All! We Are Monsters! Kaiju da yo!

What it is is a group of white boys (and girls) putting on faux Japanese monster wrestling matches, in WWF-style wrestling rings, surrounded by cardboard-cutout cities. A lot of humorous antics ensue.

So who do you suppose sprung for a videotape of one of these performances? Who plans to share this with his five-year old daughter and his friends? You guessed! And it arrived yesterday. With luck Kelly and I will be able to watch it soon, at which time I'll report back here.

Toy Jail Gala Opening

This morning was the grand opening of the Toy Jail(tm).

Kelly decided that eating breakfast at school wasn't so much fun after all. They didn't let her play with her friend Brianna while eating breakfast (or not eating it, as the case may be). So yesterday she started back on the breakfast-at-home gig. Yesterday she dragged her heels, and ended up eating very little.

This morning she tried it again, and I could see a trend developing. So I told her that she had to eat what was on the plate or be punished. Time came to leave, and she hadn't made a dent in it. I told her, "looks like it's time to open up the Toy Jail." She tried to tell me what I could and couldn't take, but of course I wasn't having any of that. I decided to go easy on her, and didn't take her 'very favoritest' stuffed animal, her huge stuffed dog. Instead I took a stuffed unicorn which I know she likes.

There were no screams or tears, so I guess that's good. It could mean I didn't choose well enough. Tonight I'll explain to her how to parole her unicorn ("eat your breakfast every day when told for one week"). If that doesn't work, unicorn goes on a long trip to the Goodwill truck at Fred Meyers. Next animal will then be big-stuffed-dog.

Reports as things develop.

Idiot Vector

Jean took Kelly to her dance class yesterday. As Kelly was dancing, in a small class with maybe two other students, Jean noticed a mother sitting with a child on her lap, seemingly in pajamas. Jean struck up a conversation, and it turns out the child was in her pajamas because she had the flu! This was apparently her first day out in a week.

"This is the sickest I've ever seen her." said the woman.

"Well, she's not contagious now, is she?" asked Jean.

"I don't guess so," said the woman.

"Does she have a fever?"

"Well, it was a little over 99 degrees this morning."

Jean didn't know what to say after that. It isn't like the kid had a cold. She had a flu, and was "the sickest I've ever seen her." The woman seemed to be waiting for Jean to say "that's okay."

When Jean and Kelly left, she made Kelly wash her hands, since the older sister was in the dance class. Let's hope this idiot's clueless selfishness didn't rub off on Kelly.

Sluggish Service

I can't complain since this is all free, but is sluggish as hell right now. I'm wondering if the rolling blackouts in California have anything to do with this. Traceroute reveals that this site is hosted by, located in Santa Clara, California.

Even if the server is not directly in California, it's possible that Exodus is feeling enough of a crunch from it's California customers to be shifting traffic to servers they own outside the state. I don't really know, or understand how this works.

So if you're having difficulty reaching the site from time to time, all I can do is ask for your patience. Thanks.

CTHD Wide Release

Of course, the very Friday following my exceptional Wednesday night sojourn downtown to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Regal Cinemas does the uncharacteristic thing and picks up a subtitled foreign film for wide release. Ain't that a kick in the head?

Their track record is exactly the opposite, ignoring foreign or indie films, or consigning them to one or two theatres in downtown Portland. They seem to assume that folks in the suburbs don't want access to quality films. So I think I was justified in my approach of catching it while it was at Cinema 21, but it would have been nice to have some notice.

I went with my "NOVA" friends on Saturday night to see the film Snatch, which is a British comic crime film about assorted losers trying to get a 28 carat diamond--for the money or to save their lives. Guy Ritchie directs this movie, his second effort two years after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which I also saw on a "NOVA" night.

Both movies do a damn fine job at telling one of my favorite kinds of story, the Comic Crime story. Another example of this is The Hot Rock which was based on a Donald E. Westlake novel. Another is The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. And just about any movie made from an Elmore Leonard novel.

But I digress "qbullet.smiley". While we were getting our tickets we observed a huge line inside the theatre lobby. Folks in front of us were getting tickets for CTHD, and the ticket seller was informing them that only front row seats were left. Apparently, CTHD had been selling out all showings in all theatres since it opened in the Regal chain. Checking box office numbers, I find that the total earnings since it opened on October 9th is $37m, but that it's weekend earnings since wide release are $6m. That makes it the number eight earner for the weekend, against such filsms as Castaway and Finding Forrester. So folks have just been waiting for it to come somewhere other than the art theatre at the far north of town!

Maybe I'll be able to see foreign films at a suburban theatre after this. Yeah, right.

Friday, January 19, 2001

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Okay, it's Friday, but I needed to mull this one over. Alan and a friend of his whose name I've forgotten, Tom, James and I went downtown Wednesday night to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Wednesday nights are usually a night when I do self-paced study, so I did a deal with Jean to stay out somewhat later and went to the movie.

Alan was somewhat disappointed, having seen a million Wu Xia movies before. I have too, but I didn't buy into the hype, so I didn't have inflated expectations. This was clearly an Ang Lee movie, to anyone who has seen any of his other films, from Taiwan or Hollywood. While he was careful to include nearly every requisite setting (Governor's compound, wayside, restaurant, forest) for the martial arts sequences, there was a great deal of attention paid to character.

Much of the acting was very subdued, with a lot of subtle dialogue. Even so, I didn't feel that there was a huge amount of character development. Rather, the choice of Chow-Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh and other cast members allowed their rather intense screen presence to boost the drama to a higher level. When two actors can sit quietly, amiably drinking tea, and charge the scene with energy, something is being done right.

This picture opened here for one week at a local art theatre, Cinema 21. It's the only place it's showing in town, and the house has been full for all showings, according to reports I've received from friends and acquaintances. It was packed full when we went, and when we left, there was a line around the block for the 9pm showing. The local megaplex chain hasn't picked it up yet, but they'd be idiots not to.

Is this the best martial arts movie ever? No, it's not. It is very good, with some interesting fight sequences and reasonably cool wire work. But really it is a hybrid. At the risk of sounding Hollywood High Concept, it is Sense and Sensibility meets Fong Sai Yuk. That is to say, a parlor drama crossed with a martial arts fantasy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001


Anent Hemingway:

Inside every hypermacho stud is a girlyman fighting to get out.

Heather Henderson

Breakfast Club Meets Peyton Place

I've been watching Kelly at her Bridgeport breakfasts, and I think she's working things out. Her friend Brianna was sitting with her when I left yesterday, and yesterday evening she affirmed that they had eaten together.

I was worried that she was eating alone, because initially she was chattering to Brianna (according to the teacher) without actually taking the time to eat before class started. Her teacher Mrs. Wentzell had to separate them initially.

Brianna has a cousin named Johanna (I've since determined) who elected herself Brianna's guardian, practically dragging her away from Kelly so she wouldn't "get in trouble." This kid is about a year older than Kelly and Brianna, and so damn earnest in a stool pigeon sort of way that I just let it go.

So yesterday was apparently a turning point, if Kelly is to be believed, since Johanna didn't 'intervene' in Kelly and Brianna's little breakfast club. More on this as things develop...

Hide In Plain Sight

The phrase hide in plain sight is a part of our cultural vocabulary. You won't hear it in casual conversation very often, but it occurs frequently in written works.

I knew that there was a movie of the same name, and found a book with that title after a brief search. News stories and essays are a favorite playground for this phrase as well.

I haven't had much luck searching etymological dictionaries on the net to track the origins of the phrase. Poe's The Purloined Letter is the earliest example I know of the concept, though he doesn't ever use the phrase:

"At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a
trumpery fillagree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a
dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle
of the mantel-piece. In this rack, which had three or four
compartments, were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter...

"No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be
that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was, to all appearance,
radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so
minute a description ...

"But, then, the radicalness of these differences ... were strongly
corroborative of suspicion, in one who came with the intention to

Cryptographic lore contains a notion of hiding a message in plain sight, called steganography. One cute example of this is Spammimic, which will hide your treasured message in a faux spam email. Be careful if you use this, since spam is now under legal assault (and about time too).

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Writing for an Audience

There's a joke that's probably as old as Vaudeville, where a speaker says something like this:

I've received many kind comments from my fans, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank both of you.

This isn't very far from the truth. Terebi has one confirmed reader, my sister. It might have as
many as two other regular readers, though neither have informed me in
email that they do or don't read the log, so I have to go with
one confirmed reader.

Now granted, if I look at the most read messages, I have to assume that some of these people are
stopping to actually read my essays. I know people often just
come, look at a page and move on, but my Furi Kuri review
has had 366 hits to date! I have to assume that maybe ten percent of
those visitors actually read the thing.

Still, Terebi doesn't have enough traffic to rise to the level of
having a demographic "qbullet.smiley". So why do I insist on writing
this as if I were addressing an audience of more than three? Especially
as I range over topics which are bound to be a total bore to most of
those three?

Well, why for centuries have some people kept journals where
every entry began "Dear Diary", or more baroquely, "Dear Reader?"
Because, I believe, it motivates one to place those thoughts in
print. Otherwise we'd all just run around churning our internal
monologue like everybody, and accomplish much the same thing.

Not the same thing, really. When you write for an audience, even a
presumed audience, you actually have to pull your thoughts out
and structure them. Sometimes you have to think about the motivating
pressures behind the day's events, sometimes you actually admit you did
something stupid or embarassing, rather than just engaging in
"Esprit d'Escalier". Have I admitted to stupid-fu yet?

Finally, writing here in public, presuming a wider audience, a phantom
presence which in my mind is a composite of my friends and some
sympathetic strangers, I let it hang out somewhat. I'll always assume a
role, when in public, constraining the tooth-gnashing id which rages in
my head, but you'll still see a little more of me here than when I'm
just talking about family, or just talking about computer games, or
just--you get the idea.

Besides, this is all very ephemeral. Any day now, the Userland folks may
decide to take their ball and go home. Then this entire web site
disappears into the mist. Or maybe not. In any case, I'll
write my words in the sand as if somebody will see them before the tide
comes in.

Turducken, the Sequel!

For folks like my wife, horrified at the excess that is turducken, I have two words:

Corndog Soup


Monday, January 15, 2001

Quote of the Day

For Geeks Only:

Chat Apps Over Freenet:

In case you're wondering, yes, we know that chatting over Freenet is a fairly insane idea due to the lag. We're going to do it anyway because we are in fact insane.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

Field Report

Jean made it to her lecture, and was fascinated and saddened at the same time. The crime science was fascinating, but it is clear that it is a competitive field, so any dream, however remote, of doing it herself, becomes more remote still.

Kelly and I did the grocering, and I tried to find some shoes which would look non-sneakerish while providing Nike arch and pronation level support. No go. I'll continue looking. The bike adjustment trip is postponed until sometime during the week. It seems they have no mechanic on the weekend, which is just plain silly.

We all went up to Beaverton, because Jean wanted to pick up touch-up paint for her new car, to protect from future dings. I got some for the hatchback too. At only $5, it's a reasonable preventative measure. Then I suggested we go to Tower Records, so I could look for Moshi Moshi or a Barcelona album. We went, they didn't have either, but Jean bought two CD's, by Bobby Darin and Patsy Cline. We listened to them on the way to Mentor to take our walk.

Kelly decided that she should get a treat too, so after our walk I took her to Fred Meyer to buy a video. She bought The Land Before Time VII. Not too bad, by direct-to-video standards, but not top of the heap either.

Now the night is winding down, and I guess I'll be giving Kelly her bath in around fifteen minutes. Then it's off to attack that huge pile of reading "qbullet.smiley".

Planck's Anniversary

The December 9, 2000 issue of New Scientist has an essay on the anniversary of Max Planck's formulation which laid the foundations for quantum mechanics. The formula is E = hf, where E is energy, f is the frequency of black-body radiation, and h is the new constant, first and last of the Twentieth Century, Planck's Constant.

Before you cackle, yes, I've just finished this issue, and have two in the chute. I'm also reading the January issue of the Atlantic Monthly. And I'm still only a third of the way through the Nixon biography I started ages ago. Get over it.

The thrust of this post is to share a little quote from the essay, written by Graham Farmelo. It is not directly applicable to the gist of the essay, but noted a phenomenon I hadn't noticed before. Here we go:

Quantum theory overturned the universally accepted notion that energy was smooth and continuous, and replaced it with the realisation that it is fundamentally granular and discrete. This led scientists to dub the previous framework of physics as "classical"--an exquisite example of retro labelling", like "snail-mail" and "acoustic guitar".

The emphasis is mine, and picks out his term retro labelling for the phenomenon of usurping an established cultural edifice by labelling it as the exception. I'm going to have to talk with Jean about this 'phase-change', but if anyone reading this has more examples, please share.

Field Trip

Jean is going on a field trip this morning! She'll be going to a community center in King City to hear Beth Carpenter, director of the Oregon State Crime Lab, speak on forensic science. Jean has always been interested in criminal science, and is particularly interested in forensic anthropology. I think the talk will be broader in coverage than that, but she should still find it fun.

I wish I could go too, but Kelly would be entirely too fidgety sitting listening to a presentation on a subject that's generally over her head. So I'll do some errands with Kelly instead, such as getting my shoe size at Pay-less Shoes, doing the grocery shopping, or taking my bike in to have the cables adjusted. We'll just have to see...


Yesterday, as Jean was on the road to pick Kelly up from daycare, she witnessed an accident. On the sidewalk parallel to Boone's Ferry Road, which is a busy road, not a neighborhood side street, a kid was riding his skateboard. He darted out across the street right in front of the car in front of Jean! The driver didn't have time to stop, and hit the kid. Jean actually saw the kid's feet above the driver's windshield

Jean was able to stop, and after a few moments, she saw the kid get up, amazingly enough. He was very pale, but appeared unharmed. Of course, you never know in this sort of situation. Jean had to go get Kelly, so she gave the driver her name and phone number, telling him that she could witness that it wasn't his fault. Then she went to get Kelly, promising to come back and give a statement to the police.

Kelly was difficult, wanting to stay and play with some new toys that Kid Connection had gotten. She pushed things so far that Jean finally threatened punishment. I said she should have punished her, by putting a toy in Toy Jail, but Jean said "next time."

When she got back to the scene of the accident, the police were there, and they took her statement, which consisted of stating that:

  • The driver was doing 25mph
  • The kid did not use a crosswalk
  • The driver's skid marks would show where they both were when the accident occurred

The police seemed satisfied and sent her on her way. I told Jean that the evidence seemed clear, and there were enough other witnesses to corroborate that they probably didn't need more than confirmation from her. So now we wait, to see if the kid's parents try something stupid like suing the driver for hitting their son.

I told Jean that if the kid had died, there would have been a trial for manslaughter, but that in reality, it should have been more like an investigation into a suicide. Jean remarked that there's a legal term for this, 'death by misadventure.'

We've taken to holding Kelly's hand in parking lots because she still forgets and runs in the lot. So I think that kid's parents should be just as responsible, and take away his skateboard until he can learn to stay on the sidewalk. Or at least take him to the Tualatin Skate Park.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

Closure Achieved

Jean told me today that she succeeded in meeting with the auto shop instructor at Tigard High School to sign over the Ford. So now we are back to a two-car family. Insurance has been switched, everything.

The funny thing is that the instructor remembered that we'd donated our old Mazda 323 awhile back. He still had it, and it was "all fixed up". The school wanted to sell it, but apparently still needed some release signature from us. But they didn't have the correct number for us, two of the digits were transposed. So Jean was able to help them with that too.

Cleveland Rocks! Kelly Rolls (Her Head).

Another hit on the Napster parade last night, from an album I've always enjoyed (owned two different copies, as I recall), "You're Never Alone With A Schizoprenic".

This was one of Ian Hunter's solo albums. He's probably known better to many as the lead for Mott the Hoople, and singer of All the Young Dudes. But Cleveland Rocks still really does it for me.

After listening to this song in the dark kitchen hooked up to my iBook with a pair of headphones, I had the tune bouncing around in my head this morning as I drove Kelly to Bridgeport. So after awhile, I bust out with "All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin' Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks..." and so on. After a little bit more, Kelly pipes up with "no it doesn't, Cleveland is boring."

Well, I did time in Ohio, and let me tell you, of all the towns I visited for one reason or another, Cleveland does indeed rock. I saw John Prine there, Bonnie Raitt, Buckwheat Zydeco, Throwing Muses, They Might Be Giants, the list goes on and on. So by god, I wasn't going to let this go by "qbullet.smiley". I rattled off the list of musicians above and said, "so yes Kelly, Cleveland does rock."

Kelly then resorted to invention. "My friend Ashley is from Cleveland" (she's not), "and she thinks Cleveland is boring." So I explained to Kelly the statistical notion of sample bias. In this context, since the only people she knows from Cleveland have left Cleveland, she only knows people who think Cleveland doesn't rock. But the folks who stayed in Cleveland, whom she hasn't met, probably agree with me that Cleveland rocks!

Kelly insisted that Ashley thought poorly of Cleveland, so I said I'd ask Ashley why, the next time she came over. "You can't ask her, because she's shy." What if I reminded Kelly to ask her for me? "Just forget it." So I could see I'd backed her into a corner, and as we were approaching the school, I went into a fake panic...

"Where are we?" I said. "Is this Kid Connection?"

"No, Dad! This is Bridgeport."

"But aren't I supposed to be bringing you to the Kid Connection? I forget!"

Now smiling, "no Dad, it's regular school first."

"Whew! For some reason I forgot where I was supposed to be!"

So I let Kelly off the hook for inventing foes of Cleveland's rock-ness, but I just had to see how far she would go into her invented world. Once inside the school, Kelly lost all interest in Cleveland and ran to the cafeteria window.

Stolen shamelessly off of

Cleveland Rocks

Three! Four!

Three! Four!

Three! Four!

(Bunch of Ah-ah-ah's here)

All this energy calling me

Back where it comes from

It's such a crude attitude

It's Back where it belongs

All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin'

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Jumpin' (Jean) Gene genies, moody James Deanies goin'

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Mama knows but she don't care

She's got her worries too

Seven kids and a phony affair

And the rent is due

All the little chicks with the crimson lips go

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

She's livin'in sin with a safety pin

She's goin' Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

I got some records from World War Two

I'll play 'em just like me Grand dad do

He was a rocker and I am too

Oh Cleveland Rocks, Yeah Cleveland Rocks

So find a place

Grab a space

and yell and scream for more

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

(Bunch of Ah-ah-ah's here)

Three! Four!

Three! Four!

Three! Four!


Music 'Til Midnight

I've been a bad boy. Instead of getting a good night's sleep on a work night, I stayed up until midnight sampling songs off of Napster. What triggered this is that Jason Kottke, a guy who has previously steered me right (via his weblog), mentioned a song by the group Barcelona. It's called I've Got the Password to Your Shell Account, pointed to in MP3 format from, as it turns out, their record label. Last night I didn't know that, and went through the agony of downloading it via Napster.

This song was featured on a compilation album of various artists from around the globe, titled Moshi Moshi. I listened to another artist featured on that CD, Girlfrendo, from Sweden. The song was "Cat Heaven". I think I like it, though as I was searching for information about it I stumbled across a review of the band on Amazon which captures it's peculiar saccharine qualities:

...Girlfrendo could be classified as "balloon-shop music" -- it's colorful, light as helium, and effortlessly nostalgia-inducing, especially if you went to elementary school during the 80's.

In any case, I've added Moshi Moshi to my list of CDs to purchase in the near future.

Tuesday, January 9, 2001


One of my coworkers gave me a Zip disk with a 77MB demo of Oni for the Macintosh. Since the iBook has enough power to run it, I tried it out.

While I've never played more than a demo of Tomb Raider before, I've also watched my friend Alan play, and I have to say that Oni has a feel similar to it. Just substitute Konoko for Lara Croft, and high tech robots 'n' aliens for tigers, gorillas and such, and you've made the transition.

I only went through the training mode last night, with Kelly serving as cheerleading section ("you did good, Daddy!"). Using this game with a mouse and keyboard is going to be tedious, and if I do end up buying it, it'll be for the PS2, since then I'll have a gamepad.

Right now, I'm not sure I'll buy it at all, since the first blush of the demo makes me think it is more shooter/fighter than clever in any special way. I was really initially interested in it for the anime theme, but given that this seems like a thin veneer on top of Tomb Raider, I'm not so sure now. Later reports as I have time to play the demo.

I Want Closure

The final step in our transition from old to new cars became a two-step this morning. I dropped off my car at the Tigard High School, to donate to their auto shop. However, the teacher wasn't there to sign the paperwork. It turns out he had a root canal that couldn't wait (I've been there, it sucks).

So now Jean is going to drop by and run through the paperwork on her way to work tomorrow. Estimated value of the vehicle as a donation on our 2001 taxes: $600. Whoopee.

On another front, I went to "NOVA" this weekend, and my 13" television only just fit into the trunk, so I won't be buying any 19" television/VCR combos. If flat televisions with 19" screens ever drop below a few hundred bucks, maybe I'll buy one of those, but who am I kidding?

School Breakfasts

The experiment continues. Kelly told Jean yesterday that she enjoyed her breakfast, even though she told me that she didn't want to eat it, and that she was interested in going back to breakfast at home. At this point I don't know what to think, but I'm going with the flow...

As I dropped Kelly off this morning, an as yet unidentified girl ran up behind Kelly and shouted her name. Kelly didn't introduce me. When they both sat down, girl X (as I'll call her) told me that "Kelly and Brianna aren't allowed to sit together, 'cause Kelly doesn't eat!" Useful information, that. Brianna showed up and started to sit near Kelly, and girl X reminded her that she'd "get in trouble."

I took my leave then, congratulating girl X on being such a good policeman (snarky, I know, but she didn't seem to notice the sarcasm). I was halfway to the door when Kelly shouted to me, "she's not a policeman, Dad!" These kids are just full of useful info "qbullet.smiley".

Odd or Even?

Jean and I have been reading yet another treasure book from Jean's childhood, Tales From Moominvalley, one of a whole series of books about the Moomintrolls and other neighboring races. It's interesting to me that I never heard of any of these books. Well, I'd heard of Harriet, the Spy, but not until I was an adult. I read Star Trek novels, Jules Verne, tons of Golden Age science fiction, Lord of the Rings, but never, it seems, lots of great juvenile and child fiction. So I'm catching up now.

Back to the point. Jean and I take turns reading tales from this book to Kelly at bedtime. I read first, then Jean reads. This is because Kelly tends to want to play with me, and she settles down with Jean. So I was in the middle of a tale where Moominpappa leaves home to learn about the mysterious Hattifatteners, when my time ran out.

I left, and Jean picked up the story. After a little while, Jean called me into Kelly's bedroom, to have Kelly show me something. Apparently, in the story, Moominpappa notices that the Hattifatteners always travel in groups of three, five, seven, in other words always an odd-numbered group, never even. Kelly asked Jean what odd was, so Jean demonstrated that odd means you can take away pairs until there is only one left.

Kelly took great joy in showing me how many fingers were odd, how many fingers and toes were odd, and so on. Jean would name a number (under twenty-one) and Kelly would count off pairs until she had no pairs, leaving nothing or one finger, when she'd announce "Odd!" or "Even!"

So I'm inordinately proud that she's twigged to such an abstract mathematical notion, and I'll have to restrain myself from becoming a 'math pappa'. I personally think that mathematics contains disciplines of intense beauty and reward, and I hope she continues to be interested in these ideas as she grows. I worry about the invisible barriers which discourage girls from pursuing science and math interests, so I've got to be clever and look for opportunities like the Moomintroll books to tweak her interest.

And in the meantime, I'm going to have to fight myself and wait a few years to explain prime numbers to her "qbullet.smiley".

Monday, January 8, 2001

Kelly News

Not too much to report here. Kelly accompanied us on the new car pickup, walks and grocery shopping over the weekend, and otherwise did the usual play and cartoon watching. We went to Toys 'R' Us on Sunday, to buy a new carseat for Kelly to put in the hatchback. She has grown enough that nothing I can do will make her current carseat fit her body anymore.

While we were there, Kelly took her Toys 'R' Us gift card and used it to buy a Barbie Ballerina. She had me tying Barbie's toe shoes over and over on the way home.

It looks as if the eat-at-school experiment may be over. This morning, Kelly took one look at the pizza served for breakfast this morning at Bridgeport and said "I don't want to eat this". I told her it was her only choice for now. But "if you want to start eating at home again, we can do that tomorrow." "Okay," she said. We'll see tonight if she still feels that way.

I think she's more disappointed that her friend Brianna isn't showing up the same time she is. She clearly had the image in her mind of the two of them eating and playing together before class started.


After "NOVA" I went with Alan to see Traffic, a Steven Soderbergh film. This movie is getting a lot of promotion, despite being a 2 hour, 20 minute movie, shot frequently with handheld cameras. I think the studio is trying to position it for Oscars though typically such movies show toward the end of the year.

Anyone reading this site would probably be able to divine that I'm pretty liberal (U.S. political sense), though I'm not a Card Carrying Liberal(tm), since I'm not registered with the Democratic Party, the party in America most often associated with the word 'liberal'. Of course you also know that I think the Democrats are frequently indistinguishable from the Republicans (not always, but on many issues that matter to me). So it's no surprise I'm not a Democrat.

What's this got to do with Traffic? Well, depending on your political cant, it can be seen as a dramatic portrayal of the insidious evils of drugs, or as an indictment of the War On Drugs. I think it is clearly the latter, but I can put on my 'pretend conservative' hat and see shades of the former as well. But since I call it the War On Some Drugs, or the War On the Bill of Rights, well, you get the picture "qbullet.smiley".

Traffic follows three story lines, which intertwine to some degree. It tells a good story, and I at least didn't notice that the film ran more than two hours. When it was done, Alan commented that he had not expected the film to be so good.

I'm not going to review this film, just comment that it is a thoughtful film, and that it contains quite a lot of good acting, chief performance being that of Benecio Del Toro. If you can bring yourself to sit through a movie which lasts more than two hours, and are not offended by the notion that the War on Drugs is not necessarily a holy war, then I'd suggest this movie without hesitation.

Fearsome Food

Saturdays twice a month, typically first and third Saturdays, are my evenings to go to "NOVA" meetings. Often, I go out to eat with a few friends during part of the meeting, and go to a movie after the meeting.

This weekend was no different. We went to Fuji Teriyaki, a restaurant we'd been to in the past. I've ordered sushi there before, but to be a little different, I ordered their "Chef's Favorites" plate. This included a number of things I wouldn't order myself, including octopus and fish roe.

I ate most of the items without incident, in fact with pleasure. Eventually, I got down to a few items, and was looking at one piece of 'fish' which I could not recognize. It was sort of a dark mustard yellow, and looked like a little tongue to me. I thought, "oh well, here goes" and popped it into my mouth. After a moment it was clear that the taste was unlike anything I'd had before, and I decided to give it a couple of seconds to sink in. Then the smell hit my sinuses! Ye gods, it was like eating mentholated pudding!

Between the texture, the taste and the smell, I had no intention of swallowing this stuff. Fortunately there was a spare napkin nearby, and I disposed of the item as discreetly as possible. Then I had two or three quick swallows of Dr. Pepper to try to flush the taste. Tom, Alan and James were pretty amused.

As we were leaving, I saw a photo menu which identified the mystery meat as Sea Urchin. I'd already been warned by my reading to stay away from Natto (fermented bean curd) and Sea Cucumber, but now I know to add Sea Urchin to the list. My Western tongue just can't handle it.

I think this falls into the category of Foods Which Smell Spoiled, But We'll Eat It Anyway 'Cause We're Starving. How else to explain Limburgher cheese?

This cheese smells like cowflops! I guess I'll put it in my mouth!

Nearly New Car News

Now that Jean has her new car, I inherit the hatchback, a Honda Civic DX, manual transmission, with just 9,000 miles on it. The Ford Escort is in the driveway, awaiting 'disposal'. I'm still getting used to the clutch, and working out the controls for the radio, headlights, wipers, air conditioning, etc. But on the whole it feels more stable than the Escort. It seems a little faster to accelerate, but has less power overall; on a steep incline, I gradually slow down. This happened with the Escort too, but not so quickly.

One funny thing. The hatchback has an FM radio, while the Escort had just AM. Over the years of driving the Escort, I've gotten used to the quirks and limitations of AM. For instance, passing under highway overpasses, an AM radio signal fades. FM doesn't. Passing near high tension lines on a rainy day, the static makes the radio unlistenable. FM is more robust.

In fact, driving the Escort back and forth to Oregon Graduate Institute while I was getting my degree, I got so used to these quirks, that I came to 'hear' passengers' voices drop when we went under underpasses. My brain just expected the 'signal' to drop when we went under all that concrete "qbullet.smiley"!

So I'm really enjoying a stable signal while I drive. Another thing is that when I'm driving in the evening on a Saturday, such as when I am going to a movie with friends after a "NOVA" meeting, I have a better selection of stations. I'm not limited to listening to, I kid you not, "Cigar Dave", 'The General' and host of Smoke This. That's the only show I can get at that time of night, and I don't even smoke cigars! Now I can listen to a variety of music, thank goodness.

New Car News

We got the new car, a Honda Civic EX Sedan. We paid about $17K for it, and Jean seems to love it. It's a manual, which we both prefer, has cruise control, which we may use if we drive to the coast, otherwise probably not. Jean is just tickled to have a CD player in her car. She's been playing Kelly's Anne Murray CD, and has her Dean Martin CD waiting in the wings. Unfortunately she has already exercised one of the security features of the new car...

In addition to having an alarm system on this car (with keyless entry, OOooh!), the radio/cd player will refuse to work if it has had an interruption of power, say if somebody steals it. To return it to functionality, you must enter a special security code. If you fail to enter it correctly in ten tries, you must take it to the dealership to have it reset.

So apparently Jean left the dome light on overnight, and even though the car started without a problem, the radio refused to work. She's got the manual with her now and intends to try to reset the radio on getting home from work. She's not sure if she likes this new feature!

Friday, January 5, 2001

Quiet Before the Storm

I took off early from work (we have a thing called FTO--flexible time off--which lets me take fractional days off). The idea was to hit Costco this afternoon to pick up some specialty items I get there, like protein bars. That way, we could do an early grocery trip to Haggens tomorrow, and then shoot off to the car broker to close the deal on the Honda.

Things went smoothly and I'm here typing and eating a snack. Here's my culinary insanity: homemade bread with soy butter, water and a glass of Pinot Noir wine. Ever the connoisseur, I. "qbullet.smiley"

This all follows the hour of playing grab and squeal with Kelly. Apparently couches are 'safe'.

I heard from Jean that our little experiment of letting Kelly eat breakfast at school is not going smoothly. Apparently, on her second morning, today, she sat there not eating until her class bell rang, then tried to make the teacher wait while she nibbled at her food. Of course, Mrs. Welch wasn't having any of that. So we're going to give her a few more days to get into it, and if she has more bad days than good, we'll pull the plug on the experiment.

In the meantime, Kelly is conducting her own experiment, trying to see how many interruptions I can handle and still write this article. I think we just found out "qbullet.smiley".

Thursday, January 4, 2001

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'!

Yow! Things move either extraordinarily slow or too damn fast to see around here. For several months Jean and I have been looking into getting a car to replace my aging Ford Escort. Actually, I'll inherit Jean's relatively new Honda Civic DX hatchback, and she'll get the brand new car.

We got the hatchback several months ago to replace Jean's Mazda, and we paid cash for it. This is our policy with cars, only buy what you can afford if you have to pay for it all in one lump sum. It simplifies negotiations a lot, and tends to cut the price. I didn't think we'd be buying another new car any time soon. I expected that I'd buy another used car to replace the Ford, and Jean would retain the hatchback.

But some surprise money came our way, and Jean expressed the desire for a slightly nicer car. So we began the hunt. We settled initially on a Subaru Impreza DL wagon. We chose a dealer, got a good quote, but wanted a particular color, so we had to wait. The wait dragged on, and eventually, we found out that the salesman that we had dealt with had left the dealership.

So we reset the clock, expecting to take another couple of months. Jean decided on an entirely different car, a 2001 Honda Civic EX sedan. I called Frey International, a car broker we had used to get the hatchback, and to cut the story short, we are picking up the car on Saturday. Bam!

So I'm adjusting my lifestyle, since the hatchback has a smaller trunk than the Ford. Mainly this means that I've had to scramble to find a volunteer to take over hauling duties for the "NOVA" Archive material I transport in the back of the Ford twice a month. No pain, really, it looks like I've already found a volunteer.

My next lifestyle change may be to buy a television with a VCR built in, since then I'd only have to haul one heavy object. So I guess overall this is an improvement. But damn it happened quick!

Cookies from Afar

I just got a package from Nami, my penpal in Japan. It contained 'bourbon cookies', and while I haven't had any yet, Jean says they're yummy. I have to remember to send her an email tonight, as I was too tired to do anything last night when I got home.

More importantly, I have to figure out what to get her for her birthday this year. It'll have to be something small, since I've spent most of my discretionary funds on Christmas stuff for the family. Any ideas?

Breakfast Experiment

Tuesday I took Kelly back to Bridgeport for the first time in a couple of weeks, due to the holidays. While we were sitting at the table waiting for her class bell, her friend Brianna arrived. Kelly was shouting "friend! Friend, sit here!" But Brianna needed to go get her breakfast at the school kitchen, so Kelly had to wait to see her.

I got to thinking, since we are trying to enforce breakfast for Kelly, and she wants to have some time with her friend, maybe we could combine the two. So today, Kelly began her experiment, getting breakfast at the school (for $1.10, quite reasonable). When I left her friend had not shown up yet. Since that was the point of letting Kelly eat at school, she may be disappointed, I don't know.

So we'll be running this experiment for a few days. If Kelly can't get enough food into her at school to behave during the school day, or if she decides that she doesn't like it (perhaps Brianna doesn't show up often enough, who knows), then we'll drop the experiment. More later...

Tosser or Corpse?

When I'm going to sleep at night, I must adjust my position at least once every couple of minutes. Jean tells me I continue the show into the night. Jean, on the other hand, barely moves. I swear that sometimes, she is in the same position when I wake up as she was when I went to sleep. How she can do that without getting bedsores is a mystery to me.

So what are you, a Tosser or a Corpse?

Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Whither Terebi?

I'm sold on weblogging, after three months using the facilities. It's fun, makes me reflect a little on my life, and let's me share my thoughts with friends and family in a single forum. By my count, today is the three month anniversary of Terebi.

But it is a free service, and free things have a way of going away. On today's Scripting News, Dave Winer (the host of reflects:

We started our hosting services when "business models" promised to reward us for capturing users in some way, on the assumption that we could turn some of them into paying customers, someday.

He then notes that Pyra, hosts of, another 'free' weblogging service, are asking their users for donations to buy new servers. I tried out their service when I was experimenting with weblogging, but I didn't care for their interface. Nevertheless I wish them luck.

After reading Dave's quote above, I sent him an email letting him know that I would pay to use this site and it's services (at most $5 per month, if you're curious). He thanked me for the feedback. Let's just hope my price curve and his meet. Thanks again for the ride so far, Dave "qbullet.smiley".

Brat Pack Dead Pool

Jean and I came up with this one during our afternoon walk today. Who's going to go first? Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. is an easy pick, but stretch your imagination. Interestingly, he isn't even listed on which defines the Brat Pack quite tightly by appearances in just two movies.

Ray Walston is Number Three

Looks like my bet on a political figure in the famous trio game is wrong. I'd have to say that Ray Walston definitely qualifies to join Victor Borge and Jason Robards.

Guess Billy Barty will have to start a minor trio, perhaps with Werner Klemperer?

Monday, January 1, 2001

Long Weekend Update, Part Two

Monday was a day off. So I took the opportunity to break down boxes from Christmas for recycling, then went upstairs and cleaned up (trim hair, shower, that sort of stuff). I'm covered in hair, grime and sweat, when Jean walks into the bathroom and says \"Kelly wants to go to the 12:20 showing of 102 Dalmatians\". I look at the clock and it is 12:05. "Good luck!" I say. But Kelly is willing to try, so I hop into the shower and race through cleaning up.

Jean tells me while I shower that they are going downstairs to wait in the car. Sound hectic yet? I race through the drying and dressing, and have an inspiration. I grab my shoes and socks and coat and run downstairs barefoot, jumping into the car with Jean and Kelly. Kelly thinks it's funny that I'm putting on my socks and shoes in the car.

Anyway, to cut the story short, we made it, and saw the movie. Not too inspiring after having seen The Emperor's New Groove, which I highly recommend for children and adults.

After that we had lunch then went down to Mentor to go for a walk. Kelly logged twenty minutes before she voted to get in the stroller. We fed the ducks again, just in case the miracle didn't take hold on Christmas day "qbullet.smiley". We came home, I did the check balancing, and now I'm posting about our day. Next I think I'll have dinner.

Happy New Year, all of you!

Long Weekend Update

I made it to midnight last night, but only in the most formal sense. After reading about Haskell for a large chunk of the evening (Jean watching a biography of Paul Linde, Kelly playing with dolls) we played games with Kelly for awhile. Jean had bought Kelly Mousetrap, so we played that for a bit, with simplified rules. Then we played Spoons, a card game Jean's parents taught Kelly. This one works better with more people, but Kelly had fun any way.

We got Kelly showered and conducted the ritual of the new year. This consists of wandering around the house banging pots and pans to chase away the evil spirits for another year. Needless to say, Kelly really gets into this part. At 10:30, we tucked her in and read her some stories. She was ready for bed without protest. Jean and I stayed up a little later, then retired to the bedroom.

I turned out the light, but I was playing games (Minehunt and the tile-matching variation of Mah Jongg) on my Palm Pilot in the dark. Backlit screens are so cool "qbullet.smiley". I'd been playing quietly in the dark for who knows how long when I heard fireworks going off. Check the clock on the Palm Pilot, midnight is here! The sound of the fireworks woke Jean up, and she gave me my first kiss of the new year!

So I rang in the new year, but no parties or watching balls descend in Times Square on television. Suits me just fine.