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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2002


If you notice that my links column is smaller, it's not because I've stopped reading weblogs. Rather, it's because I'm trying an aggregator service, NewsIsFree, and I've commented out all the weblogs I can get at through the aggregator.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this approach, but I've been reading various people gushing about aggregators for months now, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Saturday, October 5, 2002


Anil Dash doesn't like the Danger Hiptop. A lot. :

[...] you've ruined all the good street marketing that you could've easily gained by winning my favor. I'm a trend-setter, goddammit! I'm an Early Adopter. I'm a Young Literati Hispanic Mix! You need me.

But you can't have me. 'Cause you suck.

Anil Dash

Aphorism Soup

Another aphorism which we know, alledgedly from Satchel Paige:

Work like you don't need the money,

Love like you've never been hurt,

Dance like nobody's watching.

Jean likes this little bon bon, and I shared with her the masthead of some guy's weblog that I'd run across, which takes off from this saying:

Work like nobody's watching,

Love like you don't need the money,

Dance like you've never been hurt.

We paused for two beats, then cracked up. I like it when somebody finds the absurdity in things...


Kelly joined Jean and I this morning, and our conversation took a strange turn. We'd been discussing aphorisms, and I told Kelly one I had heard years ago on M*A*S*H, since I thought it would appeal to her young sense of humor:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice,

Pull down your pants, and slide on the ice.

Sidney Freedman

Kelly wanted me to explain it, so I told her it was an admonition to relax and take time in life to have some fun, be goofy, see the pleasant side of life without working yourself to death. "Like that other old saw, 'stop and smell the roses'."

"Uh huh. That's what the wolf would say to Little Red Riding Hood." Kelly in all seriousness here...

"The wolf would tell Red to stop and smell the roses? Why?"

"'Cause then he could catch up to her and eat her!"

So I sort of gave up trying to explain popular aphorisms for now.

Friday, October 4, 2002


Agora, the ISP where this weblog resides, was cut off from the 'net by an administrative error for a few days. Hence the inability to reach my pages, and my inability to post. As it happens, I had things to say, but I forget what they were.