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.

Flag Codes

I have no objection to people flying the American flag to show their patriotism or support for other Americans now or at any other time. However, flag codes are just weird. If you like lots of fiddly little rules with no apparent advantage (flag code folding versus common-sense folding), you'll love the flag code!

Monday, September 17, 2001

QOTD/TOTD (Frivolous translation of the day)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who has custard with custard creams?

Pages Screwed Up

This is a test. The port of the site seems to have confused the weblog program, and it's sticking today's posts before previous ones...

More Flux

I notice that a couple of postings have disappeared over the weekend. Alan was swapping DNS records as he moved from his old location to the new downtown one, but careful as I was, a couple of posts have been lost in the transition. Neither had material I felt the need to archive, and I posted very little in the wake of the WTC disaster, so I'm just gonna leave things be.

Weekend Report

Sunday was my manly parenting day, as I helped Kelly weave a pot holder on her loom, and later, helped her make a stuffed bunny out of old socks (I sewed on the ears). It can only be called a stuffed bunny in the most charitable terms. Or perhaps it is the archetype of a stuffed bunny. Whatever.

Jean meanwhile bought a 'talking' Halloween candy bowl so she could set it outside our door this year and come with Kelly and I on our Halloween travels about the neighborhood. It has a hand which sticks out of the bottom of the bowl, which can be surrounded by candy. When you take some candy, the hand tips down to touch you, and a voice cackles out some Halloween-appropriate slogan. Kelly was just giggly as all get-out to see it in action.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Smart Questions

Talking with co-workers about a certain person who bothers me with their pointless divergences reminded me of this article:

"The first thing to understand is that hackers actually like hard problems and good, thought-provoking questions about them. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here. [...]

"What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or do their own homework before asking questions. People like that are time sinks -- they take without giving back, they waste time we could have spent on another question more interesting and another person more worthy of an answer. We call people like this 'losers'."

Eric Raymond

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

What To Say?

I was going to write a brief entry today to let my sister Brenda know I had heard about her husband Ted's heart attack, and to wish them well (to hear my Dad tell it, he is walking around, just fine). So Brenda, consider that done.

All the personal news and speculations I normally put here sort of pales in comparison to today's news. This will be in the history books, but for now, it's shocking and very human in scope. Now that the World Trade Center is gone, now that the Pentagon is fractured, I think the implications will take a long time to sink in. Could we be heading for martial law? Probably not that harsh, but a less free and carefree environment than before.

For now, my sympathies to those who have loved ones at these sites, waiting to hear who made it out.

Friday, September 7, 2001

Stickin' It To The <em>Man</em>!

Well, I created another money sink. James Tilton (or was it Alan Matzka?) sent me a pointer to a product called DVD Region X, which converts your Playstation 2 into an all-region DVD player. My initial research led me to believe that it only worked with British PS2's, but I did some more digging, and only one site made that claim. So I decided to take the chance (cheap at $40), and ordered one.

I own a lot of Hong Kong DVDs, but they are Region 0, i.e., they play on any DVD deck. I only own one DVD from any other region besides the US. That DVD is Wild Zero, which I bought for it's gonzo indie bizarreness. I had a friend with a multi-region player dub a tape from it so I could watch it. But I used it to test DVD Region X and it works! Wahoo!

The big media conglomerates invented region coding to control distribution of their movies, preventing folks in Europe from buying a movie on DVD from America, before it made it's European theatrical release, for instance. But come on, they're never going to release Wild Zero in the US, so I have no qualms overriding their stupid control schemes. I buy what I want, and if they don't release what I want in the US, I buy it from overseas. Now I can do it with DVD's as well.

So now I'm rubbing my hands together thinking about all those Japanese and Korean films I've been wanting to see, like Attack the Gas Station and Shiri. This isn't going to cost as much as a PS2 or a new hard disk, but it will be a constant trickle .

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Television At It's Finest

Speaking of Cartoon Network, I recorded their Adult Swim premiere. This is the late night cartoon line-up supposed to appeal to folks ages 18-35. I have to say I'm almost universally disappointed.

While each show I watched had at least a couple of chuckles, I can't imagine making a concerted effort to see them again. Home Movies is one of the few segments which has been receiving some critical kudos, but it's so damn boring! The Brak Show is a spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. I'm sorry, Tom, but it seldom made me titter. And SGCTC is still not sufficiently interesting to keep me glued to the tube. Harvey Birdman was actually the funniest of the bunch to me, and I may watch it again.

I read one reviewer's opinion of Sealab 2021, which called it a series of cheap jokes targetted at offending everybody. I could see how some might be offended by the humor, but I was just offended by the lack of it. That leaves Cowboy Bebop, and since I can buy the original series on DVD unsullied by dubbing,why would I bother? So it looks like Adult Swim is gonna sink. Too bad. Cartoon Network's idea of 'adult' is pretty sad.


I came home early today with a sore throat, and it's just as well as things are getting worse. I kidded myself that I'd stick to my regular Thursday night exercise routine, just with lower weights. Not gonna happen. Instead I'm vegging in front of the computer, doin' IRC and browsing websites.

Tried to be fatherly and play Slamwich with Kelly. She played one round, then enticed me into a rug wrestling match. That was okay until she thought it would be cute to drop a ropy loogy onto my face. She is currently spending the rest of the evening without Cartoon Network.

Wednesday, September 5, 2001

Book Report

One thing which happened over the holiday weekend is that I finished Free Flight. An interesting book, and given the 'fun' travel I've had lately, I hope it comes true. He projects first shipments of jets from Eclipse around 2003, so I'll probably have to wait until 2004 to find out if it's working.

I also finished the third book in the six book series by Peter F. Hamilton. I did a page count (approximate) and this 'epic' is over three thousand pages long! Kinda sorry I started. Still, it's fun, and I'm not holding to any schedule.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

The Fates Conspire

Alan, the owner of Agora, decided to move the hardware hosting this site to a new location downtown, and did some of the work over the Labor Day weekend. One consequence was that he locked down the web pages so people wouldn't modify them on the old site while he built the directories at the new site. This prevented lost postings.

It also prevented me from posting articles in the interval when I had the most time to do so. Now, I'm back at work, and the posts will proceed at the usual trickle. Que Sera Sera.