Saturday, September 28, 2002


There is a big difference between allowing people to shoot themselves in the foot and going to the trouble of constructing a new weapon whose only purpose is foot shooting

Francis Glassborow

Friday, September 27, 2002

Nyah Nyah! In Your <em>Face</em>!

According to this study, Oregon's populace (ranked 18th) is generally healthier than in the last two states I lived in, Ohio (23rd) and Michigan (28th):

The study is an annual survey of each state's overall health environment based on 17 lifestyle and environmental factors, including the prevalence of smoking, violent-crime rate, unemployment rate, access to health insurance and mortality rate.

Ranked Number One is New Hampshire, but who wants to live there?

Thursday, September 26, 2002


Feelin' kinda Goth today. Black pants, black RSA Security T-shirt ... Oh wait, that's Geek, not Goth.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Digital Camera Wars

Wow. Am I impressed. First Canon comes out with the Canon 1Ds, hideously expensive, but an impressive pixel count of 11Mp. Now Kodak is announcing the Kodak DCS-14n. It's still hideously expensive, but half the price of the Canon, and has nearly 14Mp. I'm pretty sure that in about four or five years, I'll be saving for a digicam like this.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Wandering Moon

There is gathering evidence that the third moon I mentioned earlier is in fact "the Apollo 12 S-IVB third stage, which was left in a distant Earth orbit after it was launched on November 14, 1969 and passed the Moon four days later." According to this article, that rocket stage escaped Earth orbit via a 'portal' aligned with the L1 Lagrange point in 1971, and has returned by a similar mechanism.

It now appears likely that the object will escape back into solar orbit in June 2003 after its brief six-orbit visit to our planet. In 30 years time the Earth may once again capture J002E3 for another brief tour around its home planet.

Ain't physics grand?

More Weekend

One more addition: I've been baking Salmon most of the time I've been buying it, and this weekend I was planning on doing the same. But Jean and I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen, titled Salmon Cooked Three Ways. One of the recipes was Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust. Jean doesn't like dill, and Kelly would probably be put off by a crust, so I only adapted the broiling part, which still made for a very tasty preparation. Served with snow peas, home-made salsa and grapes.

Weekend Report

Three significant weekend activities this time 'round. First off, Kelly and I went to see Spy Kids 2. Kelly successfully weathered the two scenes with stop-animation skeletons by covering her eyes, and otherwise had a great time.

Secondly, we had an outing to Trader Joe's, a California-based grocery store chain which specializes in 'discount gourmet' foods. Jean picked up some all-natural chicle gum, I bought Kelly some lime tarts, and I got snow peas and California Green Mangoes. These are certainly different from the mangoes I got turned on to in Hawaii (and Mexican mangoes, which are the same). The HiMex variety are juicy to a fault, and resemble peach flesh. The California variety has flesh rather more like an apple in consistency, while retaining that distinctive mango taste.

Finally, Jean and I rented a movie and watched it on Sunday. It was Amelie, recommended by my friend Tom. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it is one of those distinctive French fantasy films that are so typified by Jeunet's work. He also directed City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. All three are excellent films, though Amelie is probably the most accessible. And I was laughing my fool head off at the delightful visuals and wonderful fantasy. Well worth watching.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Japan Fest 2002

Last weekend was Japan Fest, at Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store in Beaverton. Jean and Kelly and I all went last Sunday. I held off on mentioning it because I'd taken a bunch of photos, in preparation for a short photography class I'm taking at work in October/November. Since the class requires slides, that's what I got. The vital stats:

Nikon N80 camera body, Sigma 28-200mm f3.5-5.6 Compact Hyperzoom Macro lens, Kodak Ektachrome 100 slide film. All shots were taken on full auto, I think matrix metering. I didn't try to do any shutter or aperture magic, so's I'd have somewhere to improve during the class .

The day was quite cloudy, so a lot of the photos are dark or fuzzy. I scanned them in using a CanoScan FS2720U scanner, at 24 bit color, then cropped out scanner frame errors, and in many cases, the boring parts of the image. Almost all of the images have had 'Auto-level' run on them, and they've all been scaled to fit within a 1024X768 frame. Finally, they were saved as JPEGs to save download time for family and friends. The photo workshop will presumably be looking at the originals.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, here's the gallery!.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Turtle Logic

While advocates of LOGO like to cite examples of kindergarten children 'writing' programs themselves, I have been unable to find any references for less-than-trivial designs by less than fourth graders. So I'll save this link, and maybe try it out with Kelly in the next year, fully expecting to postpone it until later.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002


Somehow, I see one of these in my future. Maybe not this year, but the next time my company's stock is high, I'll have to go to iRobot's site and look for their robot vacuum cleaner, Roomba. The combination of geek toy and laziness-enhancement really appeals to me...

Monday, September 16, 2002

Twilight Zone

On the way in to work this morning, I was listening to Morning Edition, and they mentioned the new Twilight Zone. This was used as a segue into their regular feature, Present at the Creation, where they went into the origins of the Rod Serling show. According to Lynn Neary, The Twilight Zone was a vehicle for Rod Serling to perform an end run around network censors and sponsors, using science fiction to examine issues which television executives considered too controversial for mainstream television.

I didn't know much about Serling before this segment. It seems he was a gadfly who had been butting his head against the wall for years trying to make his stories, and been repeatedly cut down. They mention one show he had written just prior to TZ, about a young black man hung in the South. The Man made him change it to a story about an old man hung in the East. In all, they cite some four episodes from the Twilight Zone to illustrate Rod's subversive agenda, showing how he became increasingly bold as the show became more popular.

I don't know if they intended to, but this 'audio essay' was a pretty sharp barb at the current remake. How likely is it, that a production company working for a cable network will want to explore the edges of society? Who is going to be pushing the 'suits' to get a tough story through, or disguising it so it passes under the radar? Probably no one. Instead, this will be rather like the new Outer Limits: polished, modern, but missing the sense of wonder of the original. I'm recording the premiere, but expect nothing special.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

More Music Musings

Kottke gets credit for starting this particular search. There, I kept a note!

Gotta check out two particular bands, From Monument to Masses, and Dealership, and an entire genre, Math Rock. Given this definition, I very well might like it:

Take the intricacy and complexity of classic weirdo hard rock bands like Rush and Voivod, then add some of punk's hyperspasmodic schizophrenia, and you'll have a legitimate math rock contender. Math rock bands take pleasure in being erratic and unpredictable, often experimenting with peculiar tempos and jazz-derived rhythms while keeping the rock hard and aggressive all the while. Their lyrics tend to be as cerebral and expertly designed as their songs. These bands are rock's architects of the future, recrafting and reinventing the genre?s tired song structures.

Next, Wesley Felter put me on to Sparta, and after listening to two of their sample tracks on their website Friday night, I think I might have to hunt down their album, Wiretap Scars. The music is that sort of in-your-face, don't-care-if-you're-listening, post-punk slap-your-face aggressive vocalization that I have to really be in the mood for to handle, but when I am, it just hits the spot perfect-like.

Finally, another album I have no idea where I got the link from, Dekkagar, from National Trust,

Friday, September 13, 2002

Musical Rapport

I wrote a short message to Eliot Gelwan asking him whether he liked Wilco, and he was kind enough to write a rather lengthy meditation on his weblog. Here it is. The short answer is that he does like Wilco, but since his tastes are eclectic, I might not like his other listening choices.

Well, I've always listened to music from hither and yon, so I replied via email, quoting here:


Thanks for the detailed response on your weblog. As you may have noticed, I'm a good deal more casual in my writing, using my weblog to communicate mainly to family and friends.

When I ponder whether our tastes are similar, I perhaps overstate the case. What I'm looking for is a 'reading list' of music enjoyed by obviously thoughtful beings. My tastes too are all over the map, and I find that with the loss of Napster, the best way to get exposed is by being a weblog voyeur. Thanks for sharing!

Shoddy Bookkeeping

I have to start keeping better track of where I get my album leads from. Most of my music recs nowadays come from reading about a group on a weblog. For instance, I know that's how I came across the album I'm listening to right now, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

And after several listenings, I really like it. A lot. But I can't for the life of me remember who recommended it, nor can I track back to the weblog entry that mentioned it. So now I have a perfectly good indicator of someone's tastes being rather like my own, and I can't find the sucker! Duh-err.

Update: Well, this mystery is solved. It turns out that Eliot Gelwan mentions the band in two separate articles on his excellent weblog, Follow Me Here. In neither case does he overtly recommend the album, instead pointing to articles/reviews which rave for the band/album. So I dunno if I can trust his tastes to be close to mine or not...

Relative Coolth

Sometimes I just feel so cool.

The scary part is what's making me feel cool is very geeky software engineering stuff...

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Creeping Anime

Coming to you this Saturday, more of that 'special' anime that keeps the field fresh (even though they both go back quite a ways -- Ultraman was on UHF when I was a tyke in the 60's).

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

One Moon, Two Moon, Three Moon, Blue Moon

How did I miss this? Depending on your definition of a moon, we've had two moons for at least 5,000 years, and known about it since 1997. And now, baby makes three. Welcome to the family, J002E2.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Digitally Restored In The Rain

I must have this. Yes, it's on my wish list.


I just took my pulse, sitting in a chair, a half-hour after drinking a caffeinated pop. 63BPM. Over the last few days, I've taken my resting heartrate, i.e. my BPM just after waking. It averages 57 BPM. I was actually surprised by this. I expected it to be higher. I guess trying to lose some weight and be more consistent in my exercise is bringing it down.

Anyway, following the directions on this page, I calculated my aerobic exercise range, using three different formulae:

Being lazy, I didn't want to punch all the numbers into a calculator every few months as my resting pulse changed with exercise, or every year as my HRmax went down. So I wrote a program:

#!/bin/env python

def HRmaxLO(age):

return 220 - age

def HRmaxHI(age):

return 210 - (0.5 * age)

def WorkLO(age):

HRmax = HRmaxLO(age)

return (HRmax*0.6, HRmax*0.9)

def WorkHI(age):

HRmax = HRmaxHI(age)

return (HRmax*0.6, HRmax*0.9)

def Karvonen(age, restingPulse):

targetHR = HRmaxLO(age)

delta = targetHR - restingPulse

Low = (delta * 0.5) + restingPulse

Hi = (delta * 0.85) + restingPulse

return (Low, Hi)

if __name__ == "__main__":

myAge = 45

restingPulse = 57

print "Heart Range, Low Estimate:", WorkLO(myAge)

print "Heart Range, High Estimate:", WorkHI(myAge)

print "Karvonen Range: ", Karvonen(myAge, restingPulse)

You knew I had to turn this into a computer geek thread sometime, didn't you?

Reason vs. The Real World

That this otherwise brilliant company wastes untold bandwidth to deliver a look and feel no one admires says everything you need to know about the entrenched mindset of developers who hold "backward compatibility" in higher esteem than reason, usability, or their own profits.

Jeffrey Zeldman

Zeldman's obviously never had a customer rip him to shreds because he considered migrating his applications off a hardware platform that even the hardware vendor no longer supports. The reason developers hold backwards compatibility in high esteem is quite simple. They'd tick off paying customers. Of course, this is always the dynamic tension between established revenue and innovation.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

Squaresoft Hard

Those bums at Squaresoft really get my goat. Remember when I quit playing Final Fantasy X because they threw me into a decimating guantlet battle right after fighting a boss monster, with no save allowed in between? Well, that seems to be a trademark of theirs.

I was playing Parasite Eve, another Squaresoft game, for a fair stretch yesterday, saving often to protect my progress. I had gotten nearly all the way through Day Four, saved, and proceeded to meet the boss monster for that level. I fought it, using up most of my 'stiffness' potions in the act, and finally beat it. Did I get to save? No! Instead I had a FMV segue with Eve, moving the story forward, which was okay. But then Eve attacks a jet, and I'm left with the goal of getting off that roof before the jet crashes into it. Did I make it off the roof? By jumping off, when the clock ran out, yeah. Dead. Game Over.

This sequence didn't take me nearly as long as the one which chased me away from FFX, so I'll be working my way through it again, but jeez, guys, what's with the tricky attitude?


It's funny that we went Mexican today, as yesterday I tried out a recipe for homemade salsa, from my Cook's Illustrated magazine. It turned out to be quick, and very tasty. For my own records, I'm posting it here:

  • 1/2 small jalapeno chile

  • 1/4 small red onion, peeled, root end removed

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (leave out for Jean)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, pinch ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime

  • 2 small ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into eighths (or one 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained)

Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about five 1-second pulses, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses.

We bought some tasty chips, and made the salsa. Boy was it ever good! We served it with salmon for lunch yesterday. I had a baked green bell pepper stuffed with tomato on the side. Yum.


Today marks my 18th wedding anniversary with Jean. We took Kelly out to lunch to celebrate, at the local Mexican restaurant, Juan Colorado. For my money this is one of the nicer Mexican restaurants in the area. They have a second-floor balcony which wraps around the restaurant, with a view of the street. We've only eaten there once before, but I can see us going there again.

Later in the month we'll be celebrating our 20th living-together anniversary, which to me is the more important one, since it truly marks the time when I completely committed to Jean. I knew her for several months before that, but I wouldn't have tried to move in unless I was sure I loved her. And as it turns out, these two decades later, I was right.

Friday, September 6, 2002

let NYT = Clued_in in article functional

Holy Turing, Batman! This year's ICFP Programming Contest actually received a nod from the New York Times! What is the world coming to?

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Gotta Find a Way To Check My Referer Logs...

I'm always surprised when I find a link back to my weblog on another site. Today, I was browsing one of my favorites, dangerousmeta!, and saw "kite aerial photography. speechless. go look. via terebi ii." Whoo hoo! I'm on the map! Not that I ever tried to be. It's just the way the web works, sometimes.

So if anybody actually follows that link, don't bother . This site is what another weblog once called E/N, which after much research I found out means 'everything and nothing'. But it's predominantly about me and my family, liberally spiced with my egotistical obsessions, so I don't have to write letters to all my friends and family. Lazy, huh?

Anyway, it's payback time: From Here to Infinity: Obsessing With the Magic of Primes, via dangerousmeta!.

Lard on the Brain

When I first read What if it's All Been a Big Fat Lie?, by Gary Taubes, I was seriously skeptical of his premise. This sort of contrarian writing has an honorable history, but more often than not it is done to promote the author rather than a suppressed truth. Moreover, all the research I had read, most of which had a pretty good pedigree, flatly contradicted him. Still, it appeared in the New York Times, and surely the editors there are careful about telling America to go on a heart-attack diet.

The other shoe has dropped. In Experts Declare Story Low on Saturated Facts, Sally Squires, writing for the Washington Post, goes over Taubes' research, even contacting most of the researchers he interviewed. It turns out that Taubes just doesn't believe the preponderance of evidence. He in fact conveniently quotes various researchers out of context to support his thesis, and calls peer-reviewed research cult science. Any doubt I'd had about the man is evaporating as we speak.

If Sally Squires had not done such a bang up job of following up on Taubes' research, this article would not be so damning, but he really comes out as wrong-headed, based on the studies he rejects, and the people he misquotes. Unless of course Squires is misquoting the 'victims' in a much more egregious manner. But the content of researchers' replies to Squires seem unambiguous: "replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats ... That way," Willett said, "you reduce the bad cholesterol, but don't reduce [the protective] HDL cholesterol at the same time ... And I have gone over this a number of times with Gary, but he barely mentioned it in the article."

Near the end of his article, Taubes says " [fear of potential damage from high-fat diets] is the state of mind I imagine that mainstream nutritionists, researchers and physicians must inevitably take to the fat-versus-carbohydrate controversy. They may come around, but the evidence will have to be exceptionally compelling." Unfortunately, compelling evidence is not good enough for Taubes, either.

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Fistful of Yen

Another thing to waste the odd moment during long code compiles: Verbal Kung-Fu Generator. This is why Larry Wall invented Perl. Well, not really, but it should be. I just leave the webpage up and check it during idle moments.

This page is updated and refreshed every fifteen minutes or so.

Just wait, and you'll get 500 more names ...

Some favorites from recent generations:

  • 10,000 virgin punch

  • blind scholar rebuke

  • impressive fairy punch

  • mystic foo-dog push

  • evil hummingbird essence

  • emasculating rabbit bite

It's also kinda fun to grab a page of items, stick 'em in an Emacs buffer, and sort by different fields. Here's all the 'wheel' attacks from one generation:

  • 10,000 phoenix wheel

  • abominable monster wheel

  • dancing demon wheel

  • inverted patriarch wheel

  • jumping phoenix wheel

  • lucky wind wheel

  • murderous ox wheel

  • supernatural turtle wheel

  • wicked monster wheel

Can't wait for lunch, so I can practice my iron chopstick fury!

Well Blow Me Down

I found this on, where the photo of the week led me to follow the author's link to his website on Kite Aerial Photography. It is totally cool!

This photograph and most of the others I have posted on are taken from kite-lofted cameras. A kite, unseen in the image, supports a small, radio-controlled cradle that holds a Canon Digital Elph. I can position the camera by walking around and/or letting out or retrieving kiteline. I aim the camera and fire its shuttler using the radio while I stay at the ground end of the kiteline. The camera can rotate through the compass, tilt from horizon to nadir, and change from portrait to landscape format.

I compose my images by watching the camera and imagining what it would see. The whole process entertains me to no end.

Lilo & Stitch

We finally saw Lilo & Stitch over the weekend, all three of us. It's not a timeless Disney classic, but I laughed out loud a few times. If you haven't seen it and are into animated features, it's worth seeing.

For The Record

I measured myself over the holiday weekend, in the morning, just after rising, and in the evening, just before retiring:

  • A.M.: 6' 2 1/4"

  • P.M.: 6' 1 5/8"

That's a 5/8" drop! I'm melting! Seriously, I'd always heard, we shrink during the day, and was curious as to how much. Jean only shrank 1/8". Kelly's evening measurement is still pending.

I am surprised that I'm still 6'2" after all these years. I was 6'2" in high school, and I kind of expected to have lost some height to degraded vertebral disks by now. Guess I quit running soon enough.