Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Gallery

Okay, after a long hiatus, there's a new banner atop this log, linking to a new gallery, holiday themed, of course. I took off all the days between Christmas and New Year (four work days), and I've been rationing my Internet time. Okay, I'm still fiddling with Mac OS X programming, and playing Diablo II (and Fallout 2), but I'm not cruising the usual sites, and I haven't felt interested in posting.

Maybe over the next few days I'll try to catch up. If not, sue me.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Flaming Lips

I've been listening to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots lately. Since I don't listen to pop radio, and I don't watch MTV, it's easy to fool myself into thinking I've discovered something counterculture, but that don't make it so. I'd read about the Flaming Lips on various weblogs, and gotten the impression that they were a group known to a bunch of young in-crowd web design types, and decided to give them a try.

Now I don't really watch commercials either, since I've got ReplayTV, but the other night I was 'watching' a show while working a griddler puzzle. When I work puzzles or munge about with my laptop, I sometimes miss that the commercials have started and one or two get past me before I skip the rest. And so it was that night. I'm hearing in the background various babble including the umistakable voice of Penn Gillette, saying "it's 37! 37, okay?"

So I looked up, and there was a scene out of Beetlejuice (the afterlife waiting room, to be specific). A bunch of guys in bunny suits are surrounded by all sort sof oddballs, including Penn. Then a door opens, and a guy calls out, "Flaming Lips, you're up!" The bunnies get up and leave the room, and the next thing I see is them performing a song from the album I recently bought. Okay, I was fooled. They're mass-market, commercials and everything. Ya got me.

But how's the album? Pretty good, overall. The opening song, "Flight Test", is a very good example of putting your best foot forward, and gets the album off to an enchanting start. I'm kinda disappointed in the title song, or anyway, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt. 1. Pt. 2 is no-longer-experimental mix-up electronic noodling and sampling, and I like it quite a lot, thanks.

No blow-by-blow on this album. It's pretty homogeneous, so if you like one song, you'll most likely enjoy the others. I'm keeping it in my rotation for the time being. But I'm already itching for something new.

Household Hints

Don't put corn husks (or cornsilk) down the garbage disposal.

Yeah, I know, but I'm a guy! I expect a food grinder to grind food, by gum! Jean's been after me for putting cantaloupe rinds, grape stems and everything else down there, and now, the corn husks were the 'straw' that broke the disposal's back. It was jammed up good. But if eggshells are okay, bits of bread, oatmeal, and so on, where do I draw the line? When I do the laundry, everything goes into the same load, and the same temperature, dammit! If the clothes can't handle it, then buy better clothes!

So before suggesting we buy a 40hp garbage disposal with carbide blades, I called the 800 number labelled on the side. This was a voice menu which offered helpfully:

"If you'd like tips on how to fix your disposal, press 1. If you'd like the number of a local authorized repair service, press 2. If -- "


So I got through to a guy and described the problem. "Can you send a guy over?"

"Did you try the wrench?" he asked.

"There's a wrench?"

"Yep, it should have come with your disposal. It's a 3/8 " alan wrench. Insert it into the base and twist it around. Should clear things up. If not, call me back."

So I hunted around in the kitchen drawers, looking for a hefty alan wrench. Sure enough, I found one, labelled 'disposal wrench' in the metal, no less. A couple of twists, and it's working again! W00t! Now I can put corn husks in again! Just kidding, Jean.

But seriously, can I have a list?

Sunday Report

Sunday was much less crowded than Saturday. I got up and did my chores, decided to save strength training for Monday, so did just the Bikeler. After a shower and a brief lunch, I got into dishes and laundry. One of the nice things about modern convenience appliances is that for a large part of the time, you aren't really doing anything. So once the loads were running, I fired up Diablo II and applied some of the knowledge I'd gleaned by reading the first ten pages of the manual, finally.

Man, is that game a timesink! I'd get up occasionally to check the laundry, unload the dishwasher, etc., but in toto, I think I wasted three hours this time. I gotta get a new computer in the den, so I can move this game over there and spare Jean, who patiently waited while I played.

In the evening, before preparing for dinner, I took Kelly for a walk to a neighborhood where I knew a lot of the homeowners had gone nuts with the Christmas lights. It was misting lightly, and wasn't cold at all, so it was a very nice walk, about a half hour in all. Then it was time for a Snapper fish dinner, with sweet potatoes (no, not fries).

Saturday Report

Kelly is a real schemer. We went grocery shopping and her school is having a raffle in front of the store. For the second week in a row, she got Jean to give her a dollar so that she could buy a ticket. Great, support the school, all that, I thinks. We went about our shopping business, and as we left, Kelly got involved talking to somebody, so I grabbed a dollar and bought a raffle ticket too. Jean said that the raffle person told her that they weren't selling many, so I was thinking I'd do my part, and maybe have better odds as well. On the way to the car, Kelly seemed a little miffed, and Jean explained. It seems Kelly planned on winning a specific prize, the Xbox. Then since she owned it, she'd make Daddy ask permission to use it!

Geez, what gratitude! I let her use the PS2 pretty much any time it's practical (Jean's not using the downstairs tv, it's before Kelly's bedtime, etc.). Now I'm a competitor for 'her' prize. Sorry kiddo, maybe next week I'll bring a twenty! Or maybe I'll just give her a dollar or two myself. We'll see...

So now I know what Armagnac tastes like. Trouble is, it's been so long since I've tasted any kind of brandy, that I couldn't tell you if this is rougher than cognac or what. Jean, Kelly and I made the trip to John Barleycorn, which is a McMenamins restaurant ten minutes from where we live. This is incidentally one of the post-NOVA hangouts when no movie is handy.

We went for lunch on Saturday, Jean playing designated driver since I knew I wanted to try the Armagnac. I'd heard one of those 'color' stories on NPR about the history of Armagnac, and how it is fading away in the face of more populist liquors, so when I saw it on the menu at Barleycorn's one post-NOVA night, I decided I had to try it (despite the possibility that the brand served by Barleycorn's might be one of the 'tweaked' versions with more sugar that desperate producers have been experimenting with to try to bring back business, and incidentally hastening the demise of genuine Armagnac).

Result: it was smooth and quite pleasant tasting. I'll have to try the cognac some other time to see if there is a noticable difference. Food-wise, Jean had a salad, Kelly had a honkin' cheeseburger, and ate it all, and I had the fish tacos. Yum! We shared a hummus plate as well.

Saturday evening was the NOVA Christmas party, and food was brought by all. I pigged out, and got a shake and sweet potato fries at Burgerville on the way to Tom's after the meeting, so my weight spiked a good five pounds. Going down now, thanks.

There was a bit of Christmas themed anime, but otherwise it was a standard meeting. I'd already handed out my presents to select friends at the previous meeting since I was unsure Alan was going to be in town this weekend. So I got to receive without giving this time. Alan got me a book on taking better family portraits. I'm gonna have to cram between now and Christmas morning to see if there are any good ideas for good spontaneous photos. Tom got me a Code Monkey T-Shirt from Think Geek, and I'm wearing it now! Yahoo! Finally, John Jackson got me an Indian epic, since he knew I was curious about Indian cinema. My memory is so shoddy I can't remember if I got him a present or not. I'll just have to double up and get him a treat post-holidays. King Hu's A Touch of Zen is out on DVD, maybe he'd like that? I'm getting it for myself, so maybe I'll just buy two copies.

We all piled into Tom's apartment to view the Canadian DVD of Brotherhood of the Wolf, which we'd seen in the theatre, but had fun watching again. While there, I got to sample Tom's gift to Alan, a bottle of Oregon made Sake. It was served in tiny glasses, so since I had a single one, you know I'm not a souse! Finally it was time to go home, and I drove safely, rest assured.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Saint Lucia in a Coal Mine

The words I was fumbling for regarding the lighting at the Church last Sunday are reciprocity failure. In this case, it would be moot, as I was hand holding the camera and had live moving subjects, so the fact that I was frequently shooting at 1/8 second means there'll be much blur, but there could be reciprocity failure too. Just wanted to note that down since I'm trying to get all this SLR tech lingo straight in my head.

By the by, the film is still sitting on the shelf at home. Development could take another week, then I have to get my butt in gear and scan any decent results. So don't hold your breath.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

RSS Errors

Gee, my RSS hack is supposed to catch <'s and properly encode them as &lt;. However, my RSS version of the previous post drops the <'s and >'s from the post, making for nonsensical template code (to a C++ programmer, anyway). Guess I'll just have to get more 'sophisticated' if I want to write about C++...

Geek Alert

Working with older compilers can be such fun. Cygnus 2.90 C++ had only partially implemented member template functions, so attempting to call them thusly:

Foo foo;

foo.bar < int > ();

caused a compiler error: "parse error before `>'".

At the same time, there is a feature in ISO Standard C++, the '.template' mechanism, meant to be used inside function templates when an object depends on a template parameter. Doing this:

foo.template bar < int > ();

causes the program to compile, and work as expected, even though the '.template' mechanism shouldn't apply to this case. One 'bug' fixes another.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

He Has No Nose

Though not as combative as Karl Popper, or as condescending as Wittgenstein, I suppose I'm no angel. Today's QOTD reminded me of a recent meeting of NOVA. A certain unnamed individual was complaining that the club web pages didn't give directions to the meeting. "Yes they do," I muttered. Others piped up with this info.

"Well, they're not linked to from the News page," was his next complaint. "Yes they are," I said, sotto voce. Again a chorus of folks volunteered that it was plainly there.

"Anyway, there are no directions on which bus to take to get to the meeting..."

Exasperated, I asked myself "from where?" Folks pointed out that he could go to the Trimet website and get detailed route info including schedules, by punching in starting and destination addresses. He grumbled something about how that should all be on the club pages.

At this point, I simply lost patience. Without raising my voice, I said, "I can't help you if you're stupid." I wish I'd had the Wittgenstein quote handy at the time. Rudeness raised to an elegant level...


Although Carnap always deferred to Wittgenstein, his persistent, politely phrased and thoughtful questions about how Wittgenstein reached conclusion Z from assumptions X and Y would be dismissed as the preoccupations of a pedant. "If he doesn't smell it, I can't help him. He just has no nose."

Wittgenstein's Poker

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

One Beat

Okay, One Beat isn't as big a disappointment as I'd feared. I figured out what specifically was bugging me about it. The first, eponymous song, is led by one of the members (they all do vocals, so I'm not sure who) in an uncanny female impression of Geddy Lee (Rush's lead singer). I hate Geddy Lee. Don't worry, I'll get over it.

So the album itself is okay, not "an album so colossal that all prefixes to the label 'rock band' must be immediately discarded" as the linked review would have it, but okay in an idiosyncratic way. If I want a killer female rock album, I'll listen to Patti Smith (I know, dating myself here) or vintage Throwing Muses. Sleator-Kinney is in fact a decent little cult band. Play five times, and store in desk.

Kelly The Philosopher

I've been reading Wittgenstein's Poker, by David Edmonds and John Eidinow, in dribs and drabs for weeks now. I got it from the library, and it is exactly the sort of book that stretches the limits of renewals, at least with my current lifestyle. When Jean and I were first together, no kid, I could work my way through anywhere from fifty to one hundred fifty books a year (I kept count). But my entertainment habits have changed (more television, more computer time, more game console, more parenting), and I doubt I read ten or twenty books a year (I note them, but don't count anymore).

So anyway, I was talking about Poker with Jean last night, doing that annoying thing I do where I read quotes out of the book, and she makes meaningful "mm-hmm"s. I want to dig out one quote by Wittgenstein where he insults another philosopher/mathematician, Carnap, and post it here, as it is illustrative of what a jerk he was. As it turns out, Karl Popper, the other central figure in the book, was also an abusive personality.

Kelly got in on the conversation, wanting to know why these guys were such meanies. I tried to explain that while it was not an excuse, these guys were geniuses in their field, which led many to tolerate their eccentricities and rudeness. I was filling the bathtub for Kelly's bath by this time, and she asked me to stay with her. "Okay, but I'm gonna read my book while I sit here."

"Can you read it out loud?"

"What, my Wittgenstein book? I don't think you'll find it interesting. It's a lot of talk about these two guys, where they were from, why they differed, and so on. Do you really want me to read it?"

Kelly said yes, and I proceeded to read aloud from a passage describing Karl Popper's aggressive behavior toward students, colleagues and random members of the audience during any given lecture. "Argue, argue, argue" seems to be the key phrase. Even in expressing condolences to Margaret Thatcher that she had lost her election, he included the statement that some of her policies were wrong.

Then came a passage describing how kind he could be, how he would unstintingly write recommendations for his graduate students, help them find jobs. How he tried to help friends mend their rocky marriages. A long list of examples of areas of his life where he was quite generous -- so long as it did not touch on philosophy.

Kelly pitched in at this moment: "now they're talking about a different Popper, even though it's the same man. He can behave two different ways, like he has two lives."

I was surprised and pleased. "Yes, Kelly, that's exactly it. You really were paying attention, weren't you?" I hope this teaches me (or begins to teach me) not to underestimate what goes on in that mind of hers. Next time she asks me to read one of my books to her, I'll oblige, though I won't expect her to be interested or pay attention every time!

By the way, we wrapped up the evening reading two chapters from Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Quest for Leisure

Jean's on break from classes, so she gave me a 'Christmas gift' this weekend by picking up some of the household chores I'd been doing to give her more study time. Result: I logged about two hours playing Diablo II on Sunday morning. It's pretty fun, but I have got to get out of the habit of playing games for several hours before consulting the manual.

Spirograph Nebula

I just like the name, but the picture is cool too.

Christmas Strife

I really haven't had much to report of late. Mostly the daily routine, work at the office, work at home, you know the drill. So I was expecting the dry spell to continue over the weekend when Jean mentioned that Kelly was going to be participating in the Christmas show at her Sunday School. "Cool," I thought, "I'll use up the rest of that slide film and shoot a roll of negatives."

So we all piled into the car and headed out. On arriving I discovered that the church was going to be too dark for the ISO 100 slide film I had left in my camera, so I wandered outside and took a few random shots to use it up. Inside I loaded up a roll of ISO 400 negative film, but the metering system still had me shooting 1/8 second at maximum aperture, so I doubt they're going to turn out.

Kelly looked darling in her St. Lucia costume, holding a crystal plate with crescent rolls as symbolic bread. The drill was that each kid represented a country and their traditions in re Christmas. In between these little presentations, all the kids would stand together and sing a Christmas favorite.

It was during one of these that Kelly disappointed me, quite a lot. There was a little boy next to her who wanted to point the (currently inactive) microphone down towards him. Kelly pushed his hand away and pointed the mike back up, towards her. He reached over again, and she swatted his hand. It became a push-me pull-you match that, while it never erupted into actual violence, looked very bad for Kelly. Jean and I were calling her name quietly and gesturing at her to cut it out, but she made eye contact with us and made it clear that she didn't care, she was going to control the situation. Some of the teachers were trying to get her to cool it too.

In all, it didn't ruin the event. I think most people thought is was just one of those kid things, and some may have chuckled. But I'm very disappointed. Jean had apparently seen some of this during rehearsals and warned Kelly to avoid just this sort of behavior, so it's not as if Kelly was engaging in some impulsive act, with no forethought. Sad day. Jean and I must talk about how to handle this. Too bad.

Monday, December 9, 2002

Weekend Update

Saturday was the usual melange of activities. I dragged Kelly with me on grocery chores, including a trip to Costco. Since she was helpful, I treated her to a Berry Smoothy at the Costco food kiosk. When we got home, we had a quick lunch, then raced off to see Santa at Wizer's. This guy is a very good Santa, and is there every year. He brings his own genuine white beard, and I suppose he doses up on eggnog for those authentic rosy cheeks. I tried taking a few pictures to use up my Photography Class slide film, but it's ISO 100, and the lighting was a bit dim for that, especially to try for candid shots. So I'm not hoping for much.

After we got back, I played math tutor to Jean, reviewing her homework with her. She's getting quite good.

This was a NOVA weekend. Tom and I went out and grabbed something to eat during the meeting, meaning I missed the first half of Cheeky Angel. Fortunately, Dan, the purveyor of this current favorite, had that episode loaded up on his fancy multimedia laptop, and let me watch it separately during a different part of the meeting. Afterwards, we skipped movies and went to McMenamin's for something to eat. I was surprised to see that they carried Armagnac, which I'd recently heard touted on NPR as the brandy the Three Musketeers would drink. I talked to Jean on Sunday, and she's going to be my designated driver so I can try a glass

Sunday I worked out, did my household chores (while talking to my Dad on the phone simultaneously), had lunch, then dragged Kelly down to work to walk and run around campus for some exercise. We went to Fry's to try to buy her a Worm Light for her Gameboy Color, but they only had a new version for the Gameboy Advance, which had a tab that would prevent using it with the GBC. We stopped at Fred Meyer on the way home to check their game section, and same problem. I may have to order one from Amazon.

Anyway, we went from there to the Coldstone Creamery, a new ice cream store in the area. Turns out it's one of those places where they mix stuff in while you watch, chopping it up and folding it into the ice cream. I just wanted a simple child's scoop as a treat for Kelly, but we got roped in for the full production. I had a root beer while Kelly worked her way through the agglomeration.

Then we went home, and started working on making dinner. Dover sole, a cornish game hen for Kelly, acorn squash and corn on the cob. Yum! Kelly's appetite didn't seem spoiled at all. Oh, yeah, the Christmas tree is up already, so we got to eat by tree-light.

Kelly was digging around downstairs and found my copy of Okage, and wanted to play it. I reminded her that we quit it because she had gotten bored with it, but she's made up her mind. The next time I'll have time to play it with her will be Tuesday, so I'll try to give a report sometime this week.

Sunday, December 8, 2002

Mmmm, Tomato Sauce!

Well, Pascale was talking about the sauce, so all I have to feel bad about is that I ain't got any! Wonder how well it'd keep shipped FedEx?

Friday, December 6, 2002

Snow Lovers, Pshaw!

Pascale marvels at the presence of snow in D.C.:

We left after D- finished, and I slogged home with wet and frozen feet (because of the snow, y'know?), bought some groceries, and have spent the early evening cooking up a vast vat of tomato sauce (with garlic and onions and veggie crumbles) suitable for sticking to ribs on long, cold, snowy!!!! oh my god, SNOWY!!! nights. Darn tasty. Don't you wish you had some?

To which I replied:

Tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and veggie crumbles? Yes, that sounds good!

Or, were you talking about the snow? If so, the answer's Hell No! I spent several years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as my Dad's draught horse, clearing the sidewalks and driveways every morning and evening (though in later years he had mercy on me and hired a neighbor to plow our lot). Walking across the yard and onto the roof of the garage (yes, the drifts got that high). Fifty-below wind-chill at night. 'Snorkel' jackets, with a hood opening like a periscope, so you had to turn your whole body to look both ways before crossing the street... You get the idea.

The winter weather in Lower Michigan and Ohio weren't much more pleasant. So I've had my fill of snow.

Oh, I spent the first part of my childhood in Washington, D.C. (I was born there). And I *remember* the city getting hit with a blizzard, covered in a whole *two inches* of snow. Immobilized, even! As a kid, I actually enjoyed it.

But then, as a kid, I set a record for 1,000 consecutive pogo stick jumps (some whipping back and forth 30 or 40 degrees from vertical, but always in control, yeah) in 90 degree, 90% humidity weather the following summer, so you have to weigh my sanity at that age (head felt like a balloon afterwards).

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

I Got the Music In Me

I finished up my family Christmas shopping by letting my fingers do the walking (and my mouse ). A package from Amazon is 'virtually' winging it's way toward me. As a Christmas treat to myself, which I'll open early, I did indeed buy a copy of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips.

Now all I have to do is pick out something for my Da, and I'll be done for the year.

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Zoo Train

While it was uncomfortably cool Sunday night, we did brave the elements to make it to the Zoolights Festival. It's a measure of how much of a stick in the mud I am, that in the fourteen or fifteen years I've been in Oregeon, I've never gone to this. And now that I have, I'm glad I did. We're not talking stellar displays of lights, Fantasia fireworks shows or starlight parades, just simple animal silhouette Christmas-style lights, some of them moving in primitive stop-motion across the grounds.

When we got there, we made a beeline for the train, so we could do the loop before it got too cold. Kelly was oohing and ahing at all the light displays, naming animals and imitating their calls, much to the annoyance of fellow passengers, I'm sure. But she mostly kept it in check, so I did nothing to kill her enthusiasm. She had some impulse control problems when it came to 'staying with the group', which in a dark zoo was a bit frightening.

After the train ride, we walked around the zoo grounds, ending at the Africafe so Kelly could have something to eat. A measure of her growing sophistication is that she now 'gets' puns like Africafe. I'm tickled, anyway.

Kelly was not ready to leave at 8pm, despite our assurances that the zoo was in fact closing at 8. I said we had to leave or we'd end up trapped in the zoo at night, when they turn all the animals loose to run wild around the zoo. She didn't buy that.

I'm Not Anxious, Really

By the way, the visit to the doctor resulted in an extension of the prescription. He seemed mildly surprised that the short treatment (ten days) hadn't killed off the nervous tic, but continued to be confident of his diagnosis. So I'm gonna continue taking Lorazepam (an anti-anxiety drug, among other things) for a month! I've read that there are anecdotal indications of withdrawal problems when discontinuing Lorazepam (mostly discomfort), so I'll talk to him before they run out to see what to watch out for.

Thanks Brenda!

My sister Brenda pulled my chestnuts out of the fire, emailing me the number of my Dad's new place in Florida. According to her, he "waited around all day" for me to call on Thanksgiving. Oops. Sorry about that Dad. Look for a call on Sunday. You can stand me up if it makes you feel better.

Music For Programmers

I put on one of my 'older' albums over lunch: Drawn From Life by Brian Eno. No Tom, he doesn't sing on this one (though Laurie Anderson does some of her vocal performance art -- if I wasn't already married, I think I'd want to marry her). This album, though recent (2001) is from his ambient music period. Music as wallpaper. Right up there with Music For Airports. When in a coding trance, I really love this sort of stuff. I was listening to Sigur Ros (Agaetis Byrjun) before that.

Speaking of Sigur Ros, I was at Fred Meyer picking up a new prescription today, and almost, almost picked up their new one, ( ). I really, really want it, but I decided to wait and buy a few more albums by bands I don't yet have before doing a repeat. Sleater Kinney is next up in my play rotation, but I'm thinking it was a failed experiment, so I need some new buzz. Maybe The Flaming Lips? Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is in my Amazon wishlist rotation....

Monday, December 2, 2002

Treasure Cineplex

Treasure Planet turned out to be a lot of fun. I'm struggling to remember which version of Treasure Island I saw as a kid where I formed my notions of Long John Silver. It could be the 1934 version with Wallace Beery. By 1950 they were all in color, and I distinctly remember the play of light found only in classic black and white movies.

Long John Silver is a priceless role, complex and hammy at the same time. You'd think in the dozen versions made that there would be an array of stars playing Silver, all vying for this classic role. In fact Orson Welles played Silver in one version, Charleton Heston another, and as I recall, Wallace Beery was excellent. Even Jack Palance I can see. But browsing over some of the choices ... Vic Tayback? Um, no.

So anyways, I'm watching the animated performance of Silver in Treasure Planet, and I get this eerie feeling that the animators have seen the same movie I vaguely remember from my childhood. He's got that same unctuous devilishness, the underlying emotional complexity I remember from the past. Brian Murray seems to have a rather spotty media presence, so maybe he is more of a stage actor. In any case, his performance was just spot on.

There were the usual comic relief characters, including the non-gender-specific 'animal' mascot, a shape-shifting creature called Morph. Kelly got the biggest kick out of that, so I guess the Disney formula is not to be sniffed at.

One side-effect of this outing is that I may be going to a movie I'd hoped to avoid. There was a huge three-dimensional display in the lobby promoting Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights. It included a button labelled "Don't push the button". Kelly pushed it, and was treated to Adam Sandler in a mugging cartoon voice screeching "Why did you push the button?!? It said don't push the button..." and so on. So she started in on me. Gotta see this Daddy.

"Gee, Kelly, it says PG-13. I guess that means we can't go."

"What's PG-13, Daddy?"

"It means Parental Guidance is required. I think it means you have to be at least 13..."

"Let's ask her!" said Kelly, pointing to the young woman in the box office.

The young woman explained that PG-13 is advisory only, so that even children could see the movie, but parents might want to know, if their kids are under 13.

"So do I have to be below 13 to see Eight Crazy Nights?", she asked, making a barrier gesture with her hand, as if to say: 'you must be this tall to ride on the Adam Sandler Express'.

We all had a good chuckle over that, but in the end Kelly came away with the impression that she had a god given right to see this movie. I tried telling her it was gross. "What's that mean Daddy?"

"Well, Kelly, there's lots of 'rude noise' jokes."

"I like those. They're funny."

"Okay, but it may be boring. It's the usual bad boy discovers how to be the neighborhood saint through working with a sports league. Dull, huh?"

"I like the part where the grandmother says, 'Norman, I'm scared', but she really isn't."

I can tell I'm not gaining any ground here. My plan for now is to simply not mention the thing. Maybe she'll forget. I hope I hope.

Sunday, December 1, 2002

Holiday Report

Thursday was fun. I made my holiday tofu chili, Jean made turkey, Kelly helped out in general. I tried to find the number for my Dad's new Florida digs, but as usual I flaked. Last time we spoke, he dictated it to me, and I jotted it on the pages of a tech journal article I was reading, but now I can't find the article. Hopefully he'll call, or Brenda will email me the number.

Friday saw the expiration of a prescription I was taking for a nerve tic (doctor's diagnosis so far, anyway), and by Friday evening the tic was back in full force, keeping me up most of the night. Saturday was surreal, and I called the doctor's on-call line to get an extension of the prescription until I have my next appointment on Tuesday. It worked, and I was able to sleep last night. Amazing the difference sleep makes in your attitude.

Today I fixed our salmon supper for lunch, since we are planning on going to the Zoolights Festival at the Oregon Zoo this evening. In about an hour, Kelly and I will probably be going to see Treasure Planet. Tomorrow she has no school, so Jean is going to drop her off at my work place while she has an appointment. Kelly will get to meet all my coworkers in the hour she's there.

That's all, folks!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

<A HREF="http://books.guardian.co.uk/firstbook2001/story/0,10486,603100,00.html">Wittgenstein's Poker</A>

This is my latest library experiment (see the link in the title for the complete first chapter). The subject refers to a meeting between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper at a session of the Moral Science Club at Cambridge in 1946, where one version of events has Wittgenstein becoming so upset with Popper that he threatened him with a fireplace poker.

I have surprised myself by covering a third of the book so far. I was expecting a rather overblown puff piece, given that the central topic can be exhausted in a chapter or two. And indeed, the second chapter is devoted not to the central topic, but to life and culture in Cambridge, post-War. It's fair that the authors dwell on the background of the participants of the meeting that day, so that absorbs another passel of pages. But they are in danger at every step of devolving into an epsiode of "In Search Of...", or "History's Mysteries".

What may be the saving grace of this book is how the authors use the central conflict as a springboard for exploring the schools of philosophy and politics of the time. This is what I was 'promised' by one review, and I continue to read with that expectation. I'm nevertheless 'impressed' that I've read this far, since usually I grab books like this from the library exactly because they are useful only for browsing and a quick skim.

That's been the fate of several books I've not bothered to mention here, the latest being The Hunt for Zero Point, by Nick Cook. That book, by a former editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, purported to be a investigative report into the government cover-up of secret anti-gravity research. The book was full of plates showing napkin sketches for secret engines and fuzzy photographs of delta-wing planes. Anything that could be construed as proof of something unconventional. It harkened back to the days of my youth when I read such books as Flying Saucers: Serious Business, by Frank Edwards. I had a few good laughs, but didn't bother plowing through it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Mickey Lives

That title may be a bit premature. I took Jean's 25-year old Mickey Mouse watch to Ray's Watch Repair on Saturday, before going to NOVA. He was sitting in his little kiosk, reading the sports page, oblivious to myself and another customer. I tapped on the counter and got his attention, explaining that I wanted to get the watch working if possible.

He popped the back, and said "it's running now." Huh? Jean said the hands didn't move. I assume he wound it just before opening it, and that the movement was okay, if sluggish. It just doesn't translate to the hands moving. He said that the watch was in better condition than similarly old ones he's seen, so it might just work after a cleaning. He won't guarantee the work, since the watch is such a cheap one.

Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed. I asked him to put a new crystal on it as well. The job will supposedly take two to three weeks. Because, you know, he has to finish the sports pages.

Botany Trip

We all went down to my office this weekend, so Jean could run some errands. Kelly stayed with me, and noticed that the plants in my office had some dried leaves and wilty parts. So I gave her some scissors and let her prune them. "But don't touch the fern!" I said. I even explained why it would be a bad idea to touch the fern. She insisted that there were some dry stems in the pot, and I told her that if she could sneak the scissors in and snip them without touching anything else on the plant, she could have a go at it.

Today I'm looking at a moribund fern. I'm wondering if I should try to nurse it back from the brink of death, or just make a field trip to the Wilsonville Garden Center. I'm leaning toward the latter. But I'll probably keep the dying fern until it's clearly hopeless...

Monday, November 25, 2002

New Foods

I'm now a confirmed squash eater. Butternut squash last weekend, acorn squash this weekend. Yum. Also, given the success of the trout-for-lunch experiment last Saturday, I picked up some basa for lunch this weekend. The fish guy didn't know what it was, just that it 'tastes good'. Probably just the standard sell-it spiel. Only after I got home did I look it up on the Internet and find it was Vietnamese catfish. Nice sweet fish.

Hmmm. Is there an insult lurking in there? "You squash eating basa lover!"

Sunday, November 24, 2002

We're A Bad Trip

You know, you really shouldn't take yourself so seriously.

If you want to know why, it's cuz no one else does.

Somewhere along the line someone told you you were deep and sensitive

but you're not,

no you're not

Came to the party, drank all the beer,

cause we're a bad trip, yeah we're a bad trip

Camper Van Beethoven, circa 1986.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

<A HREF="http://www.terebi2.org/images/KellyLight.jpg">Kelly In The Light</a>

Jean got totally sick of looking at the Uwajimaya picture in the banner, so I dug around in my shoebox of photos and scanned in one of Kelly. Sorry, the banner only links to the full-size scan, not a gallery. I've been rather too busy to do more. Later!

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Milestone Made O' Fat

Another milestone. This morning the scale saw 194.5 lbs. I know that this will be short-lived (I shall return!), because I've been feeling sick, and I tend to drop the discipline and go for the carbo's when that happens. Today's lunch included corn tortilla chips and spicy tuna sushi, so I expect an evening reading of 200 lbs. or more. I keep telling myself that it's the trend lines that matter...

More Time Tales

Kelly and I hit the mall on Saturday on a Christmas mission. She needed to locate Peer Gynt "for Mom", and I needed to find out if we could repair her two broken watches. Both are Mickey Mouse watches, of different vintage. The battery-powered one is from our trip to Disney World about a decade ago. The mechanical one is from Jean's childhood, and has sat in a box on it's own homemade denim wristband for years. It's 25 or 30 years old.

Back at the Sears watch repair shop, the same lady easily replaced the battery in the newer watch, even putting a new strap on the wristband. But opening up the wind-up, she declared that it was a 'single-piece' movement, too difficult to work with, built cheap for childrens' watches, lo these many years ago. Okay, so I'm batting .500, better if you count the fact that I've got a G.I. Joe wind-up watch in the mail for Jean's stocking.

We went up to the food court to see what Kelly wanted for a treat, but stopped in the record store first to look for Kelly's present "for Mom." After a brief search we found it, but getting Kelly out of the store was like pulling teeth. Every little thing grabbed her attention, and she kept hauling me back into the store by the arm (she's strong for a seven-year old). I don't know if you have been into a Sam Goody's store before, but it is CDs, DVDs and videotapes, T-shirts, posters, 'toys' based on comic-book heroes, in other words, a honeypot for kids. We eventually got out of there, and headed to get some ice cream.

By now we were at the other end of the mall from where we parked, so Kelly had to eat and walk while I 'broke trail'. In a bit I noticed that her two-scooper was listing to one side, and I suggested that we sit on a bench until she finished it. She got a chair, and I stooped down beside her. While she reveled in the sensory pleasure, I reveled in the stream of people.

I've always enjoyed this aspect of the mall, and indeed any large gathering of people. I love watching them float past, remarkably varied even for the monoculture of Oregon. Now, some fifteen years after we arrived in Oregon, the crowd mix in the mall is even more varied than then. Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, punk, yuppie, rural, urban, it really is all over the map. As people walk by in clusters, I can see them talking animatedly, catching snippets of their conversation, embellished by their body English. Some stories are playing out as they walk past. Next to us, a grandmother tries to convince her 3 or 4-year old granddaughter to take her hand. After some cajoling she stands straight and marches down the hall. The child jumps as if shocked by electricity, and scurries after Grandma.

I think I could do this all day. In my many and varied careers, I worked in a mall bookstore, and it was there I picked up the habit of entertaining myself by immersing myself in the babbling brook at the mall. It was fun to do it again. I don't usually go to the mall, maybe twice a year.

Update: I've since called a watch repair shop (not Sears kiosk style, but a full-blown watch-smith) and he says that the watch may be of a sort that can't be repaired, but that he is equipped better to try. So for a baseline of $50, we're going to try to restore Jean's heirloom watch to function. Funny, in my reading on the web, I'm told that you should really have a mechanical watch cleaned and repaired every two years. If this watch was as cheap as all that, does it make sense to spend $50 every two years to maintain it? For that matter, the G.I. Joe watch is only $40. Are we going to 'maintain' that one? 'Time' will tell. In the meantime, I'm saving up for a Poljot Shturmanskie (just kidding).

More cruft gleaned from the Internet in the great watch hunt: remember automatic watches? They use tiny counterbalancing wheels to wind up the mainspring when your wrist moves about. This saves you the drudgery of actually having to wind the watch once a day. I suppose it could also reduce the number of gears attached to the stem (setting time, winding the mainspring), but I've read it requires more gears to handle the counterbalance. Anyway, maybe an automatic watch is still too unreliable for you. What if you leave it on the dresser for a few days? Then you have to waggle it about until it's wound. Or you could buy a watch winder, a case with a wristband mount that rotates, to wind your watch up when you are not wearing it. And the Regency model (single watch only) costs a mere $380! Wow! God I love those Yankee inventors!

Lo Fi

I had to pick up a prescription today, so while waiting for them to fill it, I picked up One Beat by Sleater Kinney. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Fred Meyers carries them, as they are a Portland band (by way of Olympia, Washington). I doubt their indie fem-rock cred buys much with the Fred Meyers purchasing agents, though.

More to my surprise was that they had Sigur Ros (the same album I have, �g�tis byrjun). What's going on there?

Anyway, back to Sleater Kinney. Sorta thrashy, fast and loud, with some musical virtuousity layered over it all. I'm not sure I actually like it. I'll give it another listen in a day or two. Right now the medicine is turning my stomach, so I guess I'll go with something familiar: Do The Collapse, from Guided By Voices. It's a measure of my musical isolation that I wasn't aware that there was an entire 'historical' movement in which GBV was embedded. NPR had a history of the Lo Fi movement, in which artists recorded their work on sub-$200 four-track audiocassette decks, producing low-fidelity demo tapes to sell and trade at concerts, bars and so on.

More evidence of musical cluelessness: Do The Collapse was a conscious attempt to break into polished studio production, with Rik Ocasek in the producer's seat. The linked review above calls it a terrible disappointment, and suggests Alien Lanes instead. Me, I just picked up the only GBV CD in the rack at Tower Records, having heard good things about them at the time. In any case, I've listened to the album a dozen times, so I can pick out the familiar riffs I enjoy through the nausea. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Another Edvard

Coincidentally, another Edvard came up in our morning routine. Kelly was humming thirteen notes over and over. They were from the opening phrase of In the Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg. It turns out that some ad agency had lifted it for a Christmas commercial, and Kelly was referring to it as the "mystery of Christmas."

So I explained where it came from, and that there were more notes , and Kelly suggested I purchase it "for Mom." Nice indirection there. I guess I'll be looking for a cheap CD of the Peer Gynt Suite this weekend...

Spoon Holders, Pop Culture and High Art

This morning Kelly noticed a spoon rest on the stove, and wondered aloud "why is the lady afraid?" I tried to explain, Reader's Digest style, about Edvard Munch, Impressionism, and the historical context of the original painting (yeah, right), but she just wanted a quick story. In the end I brought up a web page, and pointed her to the original picture. She was totally unimpressed.

It was only after we had left that I realized. Jean's going to come home after a hard day at school. She's going to prepare for doing homework, then sit down at the computer to do some writing before picking up Kelly. This is how she describes her normal routine. The computer will be asleep. She'll tap a key to wake it up, sitting patiently while the phosphors begin to glow. And there, full size on the screen, will be The Scream. Wish I could see her reaction.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


This manages to achieve a flavor similar to a clove-turpentine-banana smoothie with a twist of agony from both the awful flavor and the idea that liquid bugs are now circulating to every cell of my body.

James "Kibo" Parry


Remember this post? Bet you never thought I'd get around to telling you what I think. Well, I've been listening to the CD for not quite a month now (on and off, in rotation with other stuff I've had for a long time), and I am happy I got it. One review called it a Curtis Mayfield pastiche, but really, that's perhaps two songs on the album.

I can't think of a single song on this album which I don't like, though some have insinuated themselves into my brain more than others. Right now, I'm listening to the second song, "feather clip", and it is like listening to an old David Gilmour album, which is a good thing. Elsewhere on this album, there are traces of Grateful Dead, Phish (is this redundant?), Lennon (John, Sean, Julian, take your pick) and the Tower of Power mellowed by a Sunday afternoon.

I probably listen to a fraction of the music that, say, Eliot Gelwan does, and my knowledge is not encyclopedic. So usually I'm reduced to "I may not know what art is, but I know what I like." Since I'm not trying to convince you to run out and buy this or any other work by National Trust, I guess that's okay. But conversely, if you like to play the "if you liked this album, you'll love ----" game, then by all means send me your suggestions, especially if you liked Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, or Dekkagar, of course.

Lead Balloon

My weight is gradually going down (maybe as slowly as it went up?), but my body fat monitor scale says I'm bouncing along at 21-22%. On a bad day, 22.5%. Now that's better than the 25% I measured when I started using that doohickey, and the chart that came with it puts me just under the ceiling for a healthy fat percentage now, but I'd like to get it lower.

I'm not willing to become an ascetic, and in fact I've changed my eating habits considerably already. I exercise at least three times a week and walk on days I don't. While I appreciate seeing 197 lbs. on the scale in the morning, I wish I could find the magic combo of diet and exercise which I can sustain that would make that 21-22% become, say, 19%. Ideas, anyone?

Splitting Hairs

I'm not a religious person, so maybe I can be accused of being dense here. Perhaps some of my religious acquaintances can tell me if I'm missing something. On the way in to work today I heard on the news that Catholic officials are putting the final touches on how they plan to handle sexual abuse charges against their priests:

"Our position has been that we will remove from active ministry all priests who have ever offended against a child sexually," said Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop of Cincinnati. "In doing that we also need to be aware of the demands of our own canon law" that provide justice to the accused, he told United Press International.

But isn't sexual abuse a crime? Do not the secular courts exist to try and decide justice? The only reason the church seems to be worried about unjustly dismissing priests is that it doesn't seem to occur to them to actually report alledged abuse as a crime:

Civil law supersedes canon law in every jurisdiction in the United States. Let the laity work to ''keep the faith and change the church.'' Let the lawmakers of this country work to change the laws and keep the churchmen accountable.

Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist, 11/13/2002

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

New Fish on the Block

I forgot to mention that we did indeed stop by the pet store and pick a new goldfish with Kelly. Her first fish, her first pet, Rose, lies peaceful in her grave, and her new fish, Lily, has survived since we took her home Saturday morning. Her home is the classical one-gallon fishbowl, so we are supposed to change her water once a week. That means her first environmental shock since we brought her home happens next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed. I don't want another funeral...

Monday, November 11, 2002

Play Taps

Wah! I just ate my last Honeycrisp apple. The grocery store didn't have any, and the last one on my shelf at work is now in my tummy.

More on RSS

I know Pascale understands when I say "the RSS link is in my sidebar" but I realized that others might not. I think I've got an audience of maybe three regular readers, but on the off chance that anyone cares, you can find a brief introduction to RSS news aggregators in this John Udell article in Byte magazine online. John goes over a number of Windows apps which read RSS, none of which I can use, being Mac-centric at home, and Sun Unix at work.

The 'link' I was referring to is the little orange 'XML' icon on the left of the front page of Terebi II.

Best Made Plans

On the note of upgrading my iBook to Mac OS X 10.1.5: I originally did it so I could run Fallout 2, which wouldn't run on Mac OS X 10.0, my original installation. So it's rather ironic that I haven't played Fallout 2 more than two hours since I got it. OS X 10.1.5 is so much improved over 10.0, that I've been spending all my time using the iBook on programming and Internet projects, so there's little time left over for games.

In fact, I'm generally having to force myself to go to sleep by midnight, or I'd never get any sleep. In a silly bit of social engineering, I've taken to keeping the older battery in the iBook, since it only holds about three hours of charge (the newer one is good for five). Now I can rely on the computer telling me to go to bed when the battery runs low!

Low Tech Feed

My weblogging acquaintance Pascale Soleil sent me a note recently asking if I had an RSS feed for my weblog. She probably thought to ask as I've begun linking to NetNewsWire Lite in the sidebar. Since I recently upgraded my iBook to Mac OS X, I've been able to use this news aggregation tool and I've actually changed my weblog browsing habits, using it whenever a decent feed is available. Only a few sites that I read regularly don't have an RSS feed at all, and a couple have RSS feeds that are inadequate (listing article titles, but not providing any description is a sin of this sort). I think I'll be adding back a link to Follow Me Here, as his RSS feed is of this weak sort.

Alas, my answer to Pascale had to be "no." I use Greymatter as my weblogging tool, and it doesn't include RSS generation out of the box. Noah Grey has retired from developing this tool, and deserves the break. So further development is left to third parties. There are two RSS solutions that I've found for Greymatter, and both of them commit the sin I've described above, so I won't use them.

In the intervening period, I tried to set up a minimal installation of Movable Type, another weblogging tool, to evaluate it. It is said to have built-in RSS support. Whether it commits the sin described above I'd have to find out during evaluation. However, installation didn't go smoothly, since there were conflicts with Perl libraries at my ISP. I could ask him to update his Perl installation, and he might even do it, as he's a nice guy. But I've already asked a favor of him regarding authenticated SMTP, so I want to wait awhile before begging another one.

So that leaves roll-your-own. This weekend I began tinkering, reading the tutorial on RSS 0.92 linked above, running hacky perl scripts on my iBook.When the output of my tests validated, I was ready to go public. I'm currently running this script manually when I post an article or two. Eventually, I'll try to wedge it into the Greymatter cgi's so that it happens automatically. What it does is just scrape the front page for articles and stream them out in appropriate RSS format. I simplified my scraping by adding some comment tags to the front page template.

I reserve the right to retract this functionality at any time, but for now, the link to my 'feed' is in the left sidebar. Enjoy!

Search Engine Fever

At the bottom of my weblog is a script supplied by Stephen's Web, which puts a mini referrer-tracking system inline with my weblog. It tracks how people got to my page. If you just enter the path in your browser, there's nothing to track. But if you arrive here by following a link on somebody else's page, and more than one person does that, it shows up at the bottom of the weblog. Neat huh?

Well, this site is very low traffic, so I usually only see a couple of links from, for instance, Weblogs.com, which I ping whenever I write an article. But last Thursday I posted a quote about a certain famous 'singer', and lo and behold, I have over fifty hits from Google! I mentioned this to Jean, and she said, "teen boys looking for pictures." I think she hit it dead on.

So if I needed flow, I guess I'd just start referring to all the hot MTV teen idols? J*stin T*mb*rl*k*, anyone?

Thursday, November 7, 2002


In reference to Britney Spears:

She makes me all anxious. Like Bugs Bunny in drag.

Random Slashdot Poster

Wednesday, November 6, 2002


garret also points to an editorial letter section on the NYT Website covering peoples' opinions about owning the Hummer:

Hummer's general manager says, "The people that buy this product, they're daring." What's so daring about driving a military vehicle to do errands? Riding a bicycle is daring.

Cute quote, but don't confuse the Hummer representative with owners. Most any owner of an SUV I've ever spoken with chose their vehicle not because they thought it was daring, but the exact opposite. They perceived that that mass of metal gave them a greater safety margin than a small commuter car (like the Honda Civic hatchback I drive). Still self-centered, but more practical than the letter implies.

[And yes, I do know about the high incidence of rollover with SUV's. Others discount that risk, it seems.]

Wind-up Wiggle

It's always nice to see feedback from other sites. garret p. vreeland, of dangerousmeta! fame, shares his experience as a Seiko Kinetic watch owner...

if i haven't worn the watch, i have to sit for a few minutes winging the watch around to get some tension in the spring. it gets to be habit, but can annoy those in your general vicinity.

Not to take things entirely out of context, he does like his Seiko. If I were more of a watch geek, I could see myself getting one of those, and a wind-up. Maybe the Poljot Shturmanskie? "On the 12th of April 1961 the first cosmonaut Juri Gagarin took the wristwatch "Shturmanskie" into the space during his historical flight."

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

It Even Plays <A HREF="http://www.dictionary.com/search?q=reveille">Reveille</A>

Turns out that the low-tech, inexpensive, style-challenged GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch is totally satisfactory for Jean's needs. Guess there'll be some olive drab in somebody's stocking this Christmas.

Doctor Smith Gone

Via dangerousmeta: Jonathan Harris dies at 87. Sure, Lost In Space was corny, but not everyone knew this. When Gene Roddenberry was still alive, he toured colleges with footage of early Star Trek episodes and bloopers. I saw him at Michigan Tech, where he related that when he was trying to sell the show, CBS told him "we already have an adult science fiction show." Still, I had a king-size crush on Penny Robinson, and Dr. Smith was always fun, even though the 'comic' version was not as much fun as the first few episodes.

Ironically, Harris died of a blood clot while receiving treatment for back problems (Dr. Smith's perrenial excuse from work).

Monday, November 4, 2002

Wind-up Watches

A couple of follow-ups on the wind-up watch story. Dunno if Jean is going to be interested, but I found a few places sell Seiko Kinetic (self-winding) watches for under $200 (seiko-kinetic-watches.com; princeton watches; Invicta, Poljot). Still steep, but doable. Less stylish is the GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch. Only $40! But olive-drab?

March of Time

Went to the mall yesterday, on a mission. Jean needed to pick up pre-filters for the air filters we use around the house, but more importantly, I wanted to find out if any store still carried wind-up watches, as Jean wanted one. I needed her along so she could explain exactly what she wanted, and pick styles.

I'd done an earlier search on the web, and found mostly Rollex and other high-end brands which are way over our price range. So I decided that I might have better luck if I could actually talk to a human being. Turns out, the web search was representative. None of the mall jewelry stores carry winding watches. The one specialty store, Watch World, had an 'automatic' watch, what I used to call 'self-winding', but they wanted $350 for it. Ouch. The guy also tried to sell us on solar-powered watches as somehow equivalent to wind-up watches. Huh?

So we went to buy the filters at Sears, and I saw the watch repair shop inside the store. I went over and asked the repair woman about wind-up watches.

"We don't have any," she said.

"Do you know where we can get one?" I asked.

"How much you want to spend?"

Jean pitched in with what seemed like a generous ceiling price. "Under $200."

"No." Just a flat-out denial of the possibility.

"So we'd need to spend more than $200 to get a wind-up watch nowadays?" I asked.

"A lot more. Try a pawn shop."

So there's a pawn shop near where NOVA usually holds it's meetings, and next weekend is a meeting. Guess I'm going to a pawn shop. And looking for a watch repair shop near home which can fix broken old wind-up watches, since that's what started all this.

I'm guessing that it's pretty cheap to make a reasonably accurate watch using chips, crystals and batteries, especially given economies of scale. The vast majority of people are satisfied with these battery-powered, electronic watches, and in fact find them somewhat more reliable and maintainance free than old-fashioned mechanical watches. As a result, sometime over the last couple of decades, the market shifted away from the old springs-and-cogs versions, so much so that they became specialty items. No economy of scale, limited market for an item requiring skilled engineering to produce reasonable accuracy. This all translates into those high price tags we were seeing. I'm hoping that doesn't mean repairing Jean's old Mickey Mouse watch will be expensive...

Wish Fish

Kelly was so taken with the fishing game they had at the Tigard HS haunted house (notwithstanding the loss of Rose), that she invented her own version. She took her favorite stick (yes, she has one), tied some string on the end, with a clothes pin attached, then hid behind the couch with a stack of post-it notes and a pencil. Jean and I took turns 'fishing', and the 'wish fish' would gift us with various pithy homilies, such as 'luv yur family' and 'fede the pore'. The best part was when we got a treasure award and Kelly would come rushing out from behind the couch to lay a smooch on us.

Saturday, November 2, 2002


It had to happen. Kelly's fish, already named Rose, kicked it yesterday. Belly up and all that. I had taken the day off as Kelly had no school, and Jean needed to work/study. We went to see The Santa Clause 2, which was painless and at times actually fun. Then Kelly and I went to Gameswitch to pick out a couple of Gameboy Color games for her Christmas stocking. When we got home, after those two cheerful field trips, we received the baleful news.

Kelly really took it hard. Perhaps more dramatically than the event required, as she'd had the fish for less than 24 hours. But I remember being broken up quite severely by the death of a moth when I was a kid, so I gave her the big shoulder to cry on. And cry she did. It was really painful to watch.

I then cut up some honeydew and pretty much hand-fed her, as all she'd had since lunch was popcorn and Halloween candy. After that I got her some noodle soup, and she began to feel better. She was still sad about the loss, but it was no longer that "why did Rose have to leave this Earth so soon?" theatrics.

This morning Kelly had a funeral for Rose, digging the grave herself, holding a eulogy, and marking the grave with a popsicle stick cross. I struggled to keep a straight face when Kelly was making the cross, as she was humming a funeral dirge to herself while she worked. But she was clearly deadly serious, even though the immediate grief had receded.

Now that afternoon has arrived, she seems to have put it behind her, though she's already asked for two fish. I'm guessing the operating theory is that each fish can look after the other, or keep it from dying of loneliness. I dunno. But I guess we'll be stopping by the pet shop tomorrow, since we are going to the mall to hunt for Christmas presents.

Thursday, October 31, 2002


Ye gods! It was cold last night! When Kelly and I went out, I was wearing two jackets, my pullover sweatjacket, and my winter coat. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I took Kelly in to school this morning, and she wore her costume, Peter Pan, makeshift from a green shirt with a lace-up collar and green shorts. We got her green socks as well, but she decided that Peter Pan didn't wear socks. This whole costume sprang out of whole cloth (ar, ar) when I brought home a cheap Rheinlander hat from work, where it was a gimme at the Oktoberfest party. Kelly saw it and immediately decided that she didn't want to be a cat after all. Anyway, her school encourages kids to come in their costumes on Halloween day, so here we were. I think she told every third person on the way in "I'm Peter Pan!" She was completely thrilled that no one else at school seemed to have thought of that costume.

I didn't participate in most of her day. Jean's gonna fill me in later. But she apparently had Halloween activities after school, including at her daycare, and then with Jean at the Tigard High School, where the highschool kids were putting on a haunted house. I got home by 6pm so I could be available to take Kelly around the neighborhood, but they didn't get home until after 6:30. I had time to eat something before we went out into the cold, cold night.

Kelly really cleaned up this year. I guess the spoils really do go to the brave. We passed the occasional brave soul, but I think the cold weeded out a lot of the weaker folk. In fact, at several houses, small kids were handing out the candy. I've got two big pockets on my winter coat, and Kelly filled both of them with overflow from her rather large bucket.

Last year her attempt to connnect briefly with the givers of candy was to ask them about their pets and children. This year, she seemed to have three repeating strategies. "You have a beautiful house," was one. The second was a history lesson: "I'm Peter Pan! Peter Pan was first played by a girl. But he was a boy in the movie!" And finally, in some cases as she was walking away from the door, she'd comment, sotto voce, "he's a very bright fellow!" After that we were dividing households into those where the occupants seemed to enjoy the spirit of the holiday, and those who merely went through it for form's sake. As to the dark houses, well, they contained the irredeemable.

Almost forgot, Kelly has a goldfish now. She won it at the haunted house. So while Jean and I have been debating if she had the maturity to take care of a pet, fate overrode us. We'll see how long it takes for Jean to have to start caring for it, since I'm certainly not going to.

Kelly and I wrapped up the Halloween evening watching a 'classic' show which has been enjoying a revival recently in Canada, the House of Frightenstein, with "Billy Van, Billy Van, Billy Van, etc., Fishka Rais as Igor, Guy Big as Count Munchkinstein, and special guest star Vincent Price". It is an old, extremely corny kid's show, hosted by a friendly vampire, and for Halloween, the host of the linked site made available an entire episode. Kelly was ready to watch the entire series after that, but alas, it is not available.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Another Brush With 'Fame'

It's amusing the number of ways the weblogging community has managed to spice up their culture. Many of these folks use tools such as Moveable Type for their writing needs, and get new 'toy' features for free. One of these is called Trackback, which lets a weblogger notify another about related content. And of course there are the classical referer logs. I check mine occasionally out of curiousity, but I also link to this service which lets you list the sites that sent visitors from their page to your page. It's at the bottom of my web log, and usually just contains a ref to Google or some such.

So imagine my surprise when I see a referal coming from How Appealing, the law weblog I occasionally read. I can only guess that he skims his referer logs and posts links found there randomly, as I've done nothing to attract his attention. But ain't it entertaining when one of the 'biggies' sends flow (three visits, W00t!) your way?

Weekend Update

Friday night saw Kelly and I having a 'camp-out'. This consists of putting an inflatable bed into the living room, where Kelly watches cartoons and such while playing her Gameboy games, and I fiddle with my laptop. Around midnight, it's lights out, and much giggling and noise making follows. Eventually we settle down, and Kelly goes to sleep. I sorta sleep, but also get woken up by small, cold feet pressing into my back, sharp fingernails poking me in the ear, and other hazards of a restless daughter. Still it was fun enough.

Saturday I took Kelly to a Halloween party thrown by her Sunday school. It was out at one of the member's farm, 120 wooded acres. There was a hayride, with the hayrick pulled by a restored antique tractor. Kelly loved it. When all was done, we drove home and I got ready for NOVA. We had our meeting in our original venue, which we haven't been in for years. It was startling to see the place, which we'd once considered enormous, filled to capacity. The old club has grown. We didn't take in a movie afterward, opting instead for a late night snack.

Sunday was a typical chore day, and the evening meal was co-prepared by Jean and I. I fixed Dover Sole (with a portion topped with toasted cheese for Kelly), Brussel sprouts, and roasted corn on the cob. Jean served polenta with bean sauce. Kelly got a serving of everything (one Brussel sprout, I ain't no fool). She complained roundly about several items, and then when we asked her to please try them, ended up liking most of them. She finished dinner by taking a single leaf from a Brussel Sprout, and making a milkshake in the blender which included it. Secret ingredients, gotta love 'em.

I introduced Jean to NetNewsWire Lite last night, after spending spare cycles between cooking chores upgrading the iMac to include a boot volume of OS X 10.1.5. She's gonna try it out while I'm at work, and ask questions if there's time tonight. While I don't think it will be practical to run the kitchen computer in OS X full-time, I hope to have it there more often. Gonna give myself a goal of finding 'Carbonized' versions of as many of the apps as I can, to make that more feasible. Still, I expect Jean to demand her OS 9, for practical reasons (must be able to share files with the older PowerPC 8500/120 in the den running 8.1, must be able to print, etc.).

Friday, October 25, 2002


It's just horrible. My ReplayTV has about fourteen hours of unwatched shows on it. I've been too busy upgrading my laptop to Mac OS X 10.1.5, and then playing silly games like Fallout 2 (I've just scratched the surface, but it looks like tons of fun).

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Hyper Focus

We recently had someone tell us that Kelly possesses 'intense focus'. In the course of the conversation, the terms 'hyper-focused' and 'it's like I wasn't there' also came up. I think I know where she gets this trait, and I hope I can help her learn to balance it so that she actually benefits from it more than it harms her.

I can't honestly say that I've always been this way, but for quite a long time, as long as I can remember, I've been prone to 'hyper-focus' myself. This has benefits and disadvantages. On the benefit side, when I'm working through a problem (how to trim 80% of the time off a flabby algorithm, for instance), I tend to worry over the problem like a dog with a bone. When I wake up in the morning my first thought is what new angle of attack to take. Oftentimes, that new approach springs from dreams, so I even work on it when asleep.

The downside of this trait is that I don't always know when to let go. More nights than I can count have passed with me futilely beating my head against a wall, too tired to make new inroads, too stubborn to give up and go to bed. When I finally am overwhelmed by sleep, the next morning often sees me filled with fresh ideas--ideas which would probably have come even if I'd gone to bed earlier.

This happened recently when I replaced my broken Palm Pilot, and installed the desktop software on the kitchen computer. It stopped responding to the keyboard or mouse, and of course using a computer in that state is rather difficult. I eventually figured out that the Hotsync drivers were auto-starting and sitting on the USB port that the keyboard was hanging off of. A little more investigation showed that I could plug a mouse into one of the ports at the back of the box and get enough control back to shut off the autostart features of Hotsync. By the time I found this out, it was around 12:30am. I could have gone to bed and figured it out overnight subconsciously, or at least negotiated with Jean to see if I could leave the computer in a broken state for that day, but my hyperfocus didn't let me.

Yesterday I was at Fry's ogling the Macs when a salesman approached and asked if I ran OS X (he'd spied the copy of Diablo II in my hand and wanted to 'help' me upgrade to the OS X version, which only cost a little bit more). I told him I ran it on my laptop occasionally, but the software I'd like to buy for it (Fallout 2) only ran on 10.1.4 or higher (I was running 10.0.4). And I had woefully missed out on the free upgrade discs when they were making the rounds. So this very nice sales person says "I'm pretty sure I have a few of those in back."

"Really?" I say, my ears pricking up. "How much would you want for one?"

"One cent." Turns out they were free to Fry's from Apple, and they're just lying in the back, so he goes and gets me one. And that's how I spent yesterday evening, only I quit at 11:30pm instead of the next morning. The machine booted fine, but the login screen was black, so it was kind of hard to type anything or click on anything. This morning I did a clean install, grabbed the updaters from Apple, and I'm now running Mac OS X 10.1.5 on my laptop. Guess who's going to Fry's on the way home?

But the point is, that I still suffer from hyperfocus to my detriment, as well as benefitting from it. However, I don't do this sort of thing nearly as often as I used to. Time was, when in grad school for instance, when this sort of run-till-you-drop syndrome was the common case. Now I regularly ask myself "can I get this done better if I sleep on it?" I just slip up occasionally, is all...

Wednesday, October 23, 2002


After my initial elation yesterday over breaking the 200 mark (I did it again this morning, 199.5 lbs.), I've begun to reflect that part of the loss is a temporary shift due to not strength training. I put upper-body strength training on hiatus until my sprained shoulder is mostly on the mend. Result: loss of muscle mass in the upper body. Translation: less weight on the scale.

Of course, if this continued, the weight dip would begin to tip upward again, as my metabolism slowed due to lower overall muscle mass, and the fat would again begin to deposit. So my weight loss is in fact the first part of a curve:

Pilgrims Progress

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Red Letter Day

DISCLAIMER: Since I've been measuring my weight, it has fluctuated quite a lot, due to many factors, such as eating out versus home food, splurging on the occasional ultra-sweet, variations in time available for exercise (and injury recovery), and so on. In the space of one given week, for example, I saw a difference of eight pounds! But while I haven't charted my numbers recently, the trend has been gradually downward. I was thinking I may have plateaued, and would need to refine my diet some more, but...

This morning I weighed myself, and the scale registered 199 pounds! Woo hoo! This is the first time I've seen the light side of 200 in over two years. W00t! I expect to read 200+ this evening, and again many times, but I hope to be trending down enough that I see 200- more often. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 21, 2002

'Anime' Spam

Snort! I don't normally bother to read obvious spam, but I got an email today, "Pay and Get Paid in Rupees", which was from "Kanchi". As it happens, there is a character in Furi Kuri (a robot, actually) named Kanchi, and that was enough to get me to open the message, in the misbegotten hope that the spammer had a sense of humor. But alas, no.

I realize this was just a coincidence, but what if it had been a deliberate ploy? What would come next? Mail from your favorite soap-star?

Back Report

Just a quick report. I've been off the meds all day, and have minimal discomfort. I'm not going to start doing backflips (as if I ever could), and I'll be holding off on strength training until perhaps the start of next week, but overall, I'm on the mend.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

The Ring

From alt.asian.movies comes a review of The Ring, an urban legend horror movie which is a remake of (an adaptation? inspired by?) either The Ring Virus, from Korea, or Ringu, from Japan, of which the Korean film is also a remake:

...And then there are the horses. Yes, horses. I offer no spoilers--just advice--track down the original Japanese film, which was never a great film to begin with, but is a step ahead of its Korean remake at all times, and miles down the road from Western revisionism.

Ringu ("Ring") ***

Ring ("The Ring Virus") **1/2

The Ring *

Saturday, October 19, 2002

New CD

Jean and I ordered a few things from Amazon that arrived today. Among them were a couple of Christmas presents, which we promptly hid away, and an album I'd been meaning to buy for some time, Dekkagar, by National Trust. I'd bought it on the strength of one factoid: the album was produced by Brian Deck, who produced many of Modest Mouse's albums. Strange you may think, but consider that Brian Eno produced many a band which became famous, such as Talking Heads and Roxy Music.

So I've got the album, and listened to the first two tracks, once. It will take a few more listens to determine if it was a good purchase. Trying it out at home is difficult, since neither Jean nor Kelly share my eclectic tastes. While listening to the album, Jean shook her head, and Kelly burrowed into a corner to play with her food (making a pyramid with grapes and scotch tape, if you must know). When I told Kelly "when this song is done, it'll be time for us to practice your reading," she muttered "I'd rather listen to this than do my reading." Great, insulted twice in one sentence!

Back Problems

Life told me to slow down this weekend. Or rather my back did. Around Thursday evening it began hurting in the left shoulder, under the shoulder blade. By night time, it was clear that I'd somehow pulled a muscle, and it was intent on recruiting all the other muscles in my back. I got about four hours of sleep, and decided that I was in no shape to go to work.

Instead I went to Dr. Selby, got checked out, and received a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain killers. I found that I could sit in my chair in the den, in a sort of relaxed posture, and feel minimal pain, so I fired up my PSOne and began playing Parasite Eve. I'm still in 'Day Five', but I've beat the crab (finally), beat the stinkin' centipede, and beat up a few dozen dinosaurs (that Museum is huge). I think I played more PE yesterday than I'd played cumulatively before that.

I felt good enough to go grocering with the family today, although Jean wouldn't let me push the cart or lift any packages. I made up a batch of salsa when we got home, then put together plates of grapes, cheese, apples and tomatoes, as well as chips for the salsa. About an hour after lunch, Kelly and I did her reading practice, and I nearly fell asleep. Guess my body's trying to tell me something. So I ended up taking a nap.

Fortunately I got my homework assignment for photography class done by lunchtime on Thursday, or I would never have completed it. Now I just have to pick up the slides when they are ready...

If I sound spacey, it's because I am. Doing the meds make me feel rather fuzzy. On the one hand, it reduces the pain, though I have to be careful not to turn my head too quickly. On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to Monday, as I need to drive in to work, and you can't take meds that put you to sleep when you need to drive. So looking forward to a slightly uncomfortable Monday morning...

At least this isn't the classic syndrome I suffered from for several years a decade ago, when my lower back would give out completely, for no apparent reason, leaving me racked with spasms and unable to move. Since I started strength training, that sort of problem seems much less likely. Well, enough rambling.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Hire An Editor?

Another one of those annoying 'illit' slips that show up where they shouldn't:

The approach also has spawned a number of venture funded start-ups are readying such products.

That from the front cover of EE Times. Okay, they're not Lingua Franca, but really, is it that hard to spot a bungled sentence on the front cover? The irony here, if you follow the links, is that Lingua Franca has had to cease publication, due to insufficient funds. Literate and no business plan, or illiterate and steady cash flow. Hmmm.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Wallace and Gromit Return

I've definitely got to watch this when I get home tonight (with Kelly, of course):

Wallace and Gromit film premi�res

We have all three of the existing adventures, and I'm sure we'll buy the new short films when and if they become available. They're lots of fun.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Camera Work

Tonight is my second class in photography. Mentor's recreational committee is sponsoring it, and while it is quite simple (one two-hour evening class a week for eight weeks), I'm finding most of my free time swallowed up by it. We are supposed to shoot a roll of slide film each week, concentrating on a particular aspect of photography each time. The slides I'm supposed to show this week deal with exposure: one high value (mostly whites) image, one low value (mostly blacks) and one high contrast image. This is to explore the metering behavior of my camera, which the teacher points out will want to set exposure to 18% gray.

Finding the time and appropriate subjects for these photographs consumes some of my time, but another sizeable chunk is taken by me frantically poring over my camera manual and experimenting with the controls. I'm taking this class for a reason: I am very focused when it comes to studying for my professional interests, but when it comes to hobbies, I need structure to achieve my goals. Taking the class forces me to read the manual, play with the settings, and otherwise make progress beyond the full automatic mode of the camera.

An example of this is that I've had my digital camera for yonk's ages, but I've not really comprehended all the available settings, though I've experimented with them, read the manual, and a tutorial book for my specific camera. This weekend I was fiddling with it in case I wanted to take pictures at the Onion Festival (I didn't), and I got to playing with the Aperture Priority mode. "Oh, so that's what that means," I found myself thinking. Of course, it also helps that I've now been spurred to read the book that Alan lent me, Creative Camera Control.

So now you know why posting has been so sparse lately, and why it will probably be sparse for the next six or seven weeks. I just thought I'd post a spate of articles to keep the site from getting stale...

Free the Mouse

I've groused before about the Copyright Term Extension Act, which to me clearly violates the intent of the Constitution:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to ... promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

Last week the Supreme Court heard the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, which unless you've been living under a rock, you should at least be aware of, since there's been a flurry of news coverage on the case, which challenges Sonny Bono's legacy gift to Disney and their ilk ("Congress was not acting to promote progress, it was acting to reward 'court favorites.'"). Now Lawrence Lessig, the lawyer who challenged the act on behalf of his clients, writes up his own impressions of the case.

It is the particular hell for lawyers that after an argument, we live in the purgatory of constantly reliving the argument.

It's really interesting, give it a read.

Game Strategy

It's official. Jean has decided to get Kingdom Hearts as a joint gift to Kelly and me for Christmas. This is cool, as I know Kelly wants it, and I think I'll enjoy playing it with her. The reports from my game-playing friends are mostly positive, though I've been warned that the real-time fighting system requires more 'twitch-factor' than the standard SquareSoft turn-based battle systems. So I guess I'll give the controller to Kelly when it's time to fight, since her reflexes are a lot faster than mine

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Onion Festival

We just got back from the "Onion Festival" in Sherwood. Tweren't much of a festival, just some chicken dinners in the Archer Elementary School gym, arts and crafts on the other side, a raffle, and two games, bucket toss with onions, and bowling with onions.

I think it would have had more value for us if it had been at Kelly's school, since it felt a lot like the sort of fund-raising stuff they do at Bridgeport. We went because Kelly asked to, and she'd been rather good this week. I think she was expecting something more like what they do at Bridgeport too. We stayed about an hour, Kelly bought a pendant, then it was off to home again.

Oh, and other than the two 'onion games', they only had onion rolls and baked onions. They need to work on their theme more.