Friday October 31, 2003


The Friday 5 for this week concerns Halloween

  1. What was your first Halloween costume?
  2. What was your best costume and why?
  3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat?
  4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? (ie: Family pumpkin carving, special dinner before trick or treating, etc.)
  5. Share your favorite scary story...real or legend!
       Continue reading "Boo!"

Boo! ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Fri, 31 Oct, 12:42 Pacific

Sunday October 26, 2003

Fall Back Day

Daylight Spending Time?

As of 02:00 (am) Sunday, Oct. 27 (less than 2 hours away as I write this), the U.S. is officially back on "normal;" time. Except for Hawaii, parts of Indiana, and most of Arizona, we all "sprung forward" on the first Sunday of April. As opposed to that Sunday, this is one of my least favorite days of the year Sigh.

Summer is officially over. Winter is coming. Autumn is here. The days were already short (too short!). Now the sun will set before I leave work in the evenings. It will be dark as I drive home. The only mitigating factor is that it will (for a while at least) be lighter in the morning when I wake up. (I thought it was bad enough that I was getting up at 6:45 am! Our niece, Rachel, gets up at 5:15. By 6:40 she's on the school bus... That's dreadful!)

I have never understood why, if DST saves energy, the government doesn't just decide to go on DST year-round, as they did during WWI, WWII and the "energy crisis" during the mid-1970s. At the very least, why don't they wait to "fall back" until the first Sunday of November, so as to prevent Halloween from happening "later" in the evening (think of all those trick-or-treaters walking around in the dark after dinner, an additional "hour" after sunset).

Sigh. I'd love to hibernate till February like the groundhog. I'll be looking forward to Spring for the next three months... wake me when it gets here.

Fall Back Day ( in category In The News ) - posted at Sun, 26 Oct, 00:16 Pacific

Saturday October 25, 2003

Cone of Silence

Do you work in "Cubeland"? Do your neighbors use the speaker phone, crack their gum, have meetings in their cubicles, talk loudly when on the phone, talk to themselves while working, "visit" with each other during the day? Are you bothered by the sounds of the nearby printers, ringing phones, coffee machines, air conditioning?

Consider investing in a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones.

Put them on. Notice the difference.

Now, turn them on. Notice the silence.

Connect the input jack to a music source (I prefer an iPod :-). Listen.


Look for a Bose store near you and try a pair in their showroom; I think you'll agree. Sure, they're expensive ($299). But they are worth every penny.

Cone of Silence ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Sat, 25 Oct, 22:22 Pacific

Friday October 24, 2003

Sunrise, Sunset

I have a temporary contract job in the South Bay — an hour's drive from my house. In order to put in a full day (and I'm putting in 9 hours each day so that I have a small "time bank" to handle possible contingencies), I leave the house at 7:30. I get up between 6:15 and 6:45 (the alarm is set for 6:45).

As I have never been a "morning person", this is...shall we say... not really desirable. But I do get one benefit.


Our kitchen windows face the bay, looking due east. Oh my goodness do we get some impressive sunrises. Yesterday there was a cloud settled onto the bay (clear at our house, clear in the Oakland hills, the entire bay obscured) with a stunning neon pink band over the cloud to the southeast.

We get some delightful sunsets too; I saw one on the drive home last night. Cotton candy and peppermint striped swirls of pink and orange clouds against infinite shades of purple, blue, and green. Fantastic.

At least when I have to be I'm up at this hour, Mother Nature puts on a good show!

Sunrise, Sunset ( in category Nature/Cats ) - posted at Fri, 24 Oct, 07:32 Pacific

Sunday October 19, 2003

Name 5 things

I recall a George Carlin routine from many years ago:
Honey? What's this?
I don't know... what does it look like?
Um... could be meat... could be cake... Looks like meatcake?!
Put it back. Someone might want it!

The Friday 5 for this week is like that ;-)

  1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
  2. Name five things in your freezer.
  3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
  4. Name five things around your computer.
  5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
       Continue reading "Name 5 things"

Name 5 things ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Sun, 19 Oct, 15:10 Pacific

Saturday October 18, 2003

Sweet Tooth

I couldn't quite decide if this was commentary or not, so I posted the same article to both of my weblogs; only the teaser paragraph is here; you can read the rest at

Saccharin. Cyclamate. Aspartame. Sucralose. Tagatose. Alitame.
Xylitol. Maltitol. Lactitol. Isomalt. Erythritol. Mannitol. Sorbitol.

If it tastes like sugar, but it's not...

People like sugar; people like sweet foods. Unfortunately, sucrose ("table sugar") is, well, fattening. It also promotes tooth decay, increases your blood glucose levels, and triggers the insulin reaction. For decades, dieters, diabetics, and people concerned about their teeth have sought an alternative to sucrose. Although the perfect solution has not yet been discovered, we do have many choices.

Continue reading "Sweet Tooth"

Sweet Tooth ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Sat, 18 Oct, 22:40 Pacific

Friday October 17, 2003

A Calorie is a Calorie... or is it?

The dietary establishment has long argued it's impossible, but a new study offers intriguing evidence for the idea that people on low-carbohydrate diets can actually eat more than folks on standard lowfat plans and still lose weight.
[This] strikes at one of the most revered beliefs in nutrition: A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. It does not matter whether they come from bacon or mashed potatoes; they all go on the waistline in just the same way ...

[c.f. Study surprise: Low-carb dieters eat more, lose weight, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (AP), Oct 4, 2003]

       Continue reading "A Calorie is a Calorie... or is it?"

A Calorie is a Calorie... or is it? ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Fri, 17 Oct, 23:23 Pacific

Tuesday October 14, 2003

24-hour clocks

I prefer digital clocks that show the time in 24 (unique) hourly numbers, from 00:59 - 23:59. Unfortunately, many alarm clocks in the U.S. don't do this. Has it ever occurred to you, however, that all digital clocks are "24 hour clocks"?

An analog clock (you remember, the old-fashioned circular faces with the hands? :-) is really a 12-hour clock. The hands go from 12:00 to 11:59 and then they do it again. If you set the clock for 3:15, doesn't matter "which" 3:15 it is, the clock will work. The alarm will work. The only drawback is you can't set an alarm more than 12 hours in advance.

A digital clock, however, fools you. The numbers go from 12:00 to 11:59 and repeat, but in the second pass there's usually some sort of teensy tinsy symbol to indicate that it's now pm (or perhaps am).

Our alarm clock didn't go off this morning. It was set for 8:30, to give Rich plenty of time to get up and be at his new contract by 10:00. Unfortunately, although the alarm was correctly set for 8:30 am, the clock itself had gotten misadjusted after a temporary power failure and was now off by 12 hours. So, at half past eight this morning the clock thought it was 8:30 pm. We woke up an hour later. Rich wasn't very late leaving the house, but neither did he have much time to get ready.

The next alarm clock I get is going to be a real 24-hour clock that uses 24 numbers for the hours, not some itty bitty red dot :-(

24-hour clocks ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Tue, 14 Oct, 15:26 Pacific

Sunday October 12, 2003

Does Winter make you SAD?

It's the middle of October. The middle of Autumn. The next three and a half months are my least favorite time of the year. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, 37.8° North latitude (about even with Richmond, VA to the east); if we lived much further north, I probably wouldn't like February either.

Winter is too dark. The days are too short. It's bad enough right now, but on Sunday Oct. 26, we'll turn the clocks back. Then it will get darker even faster in the evening. Full dark by 5:30 pm. Yuch. ...
       Continue reading "Does Winter make you SAD?"

Does Winter make you SAD? ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Sun, 12 Oct, 00:04 Pacific

Saturday October 11, 2003

The South Beach Diet

I have been reading "The South Beach Diet" by Dr. Arthur Agatston. (The hardcover book is currently on sale for softcover prices ($15) at both and Barnes & Noble; there are used copies available as well through starting at $11.75.

Dr. Agatston is a cardiologist who started investigating diet as a way to help his overweight patients lower their weight, cholesterol, and triglycerides and reduce adult diabetes and pre-diabetes symptoms. The patients shared the diet success with friends and family and it's become very popular.

Rich and I have been looking through various "diet" schemes, reading the books, comparing what they say to what we believe makes sense. So far, The South Beach Diet is the closest to what I think makes the most sense. It's low-carb but not no-carb. It's not "high fat" nor is it "low fat". It's not "all protein" and it's certainly not a starvation diet. It draws a distinction between "good" and "bad" carbs (and between "good" and" bad" fats) . It's not so much a "diet" as a lifestyle change. ...
       Continue reading "The South Beach Diet"

The South Beach Diet ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Sat, 11 Oct, 14:38 Pacific

Friday October 10, 2003

iChat, iSight, iSign

For Melvin Patterson, who has been completely deaf since he was a toddler, communication is a visual experience.

In the past, conducting a conversation using traditional nonvisual telecommunications tools like telephones and pagers was frustrating. Text messages or sign language conversations on jittery Web video screens were a pale substitute for a face-to-face exchange.

But that changed dramatically when Patterson tried iChat AV, new videoconferencing software, and iSight, a new Web camera, which Apple Computer Inc. introduced during the summer.

Read the rest of the article from Monday's (Oct. 6, 2003) San Francisco Chronicle.

iChat, iSight, iSign ( in category In The News , SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 10 Oct, 23:53 Pacific

Friday October 10, 2003

Not even the Splendid Bowl

The Friday 5 for this week asks about sports...

  1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?
  2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?
  3. Are there any sports you hate?
  4. Have you ever been to a sports event?
  5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?
       Continue reading "Not even the Splendid Bowl"

Not even the Splendid Bowl ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Fri, 10 Oct, 16:04 Pacific

Tuesday October 7, 2003

Under the Tuscan Sun

Rich and I recently finished reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It's quite a good read if you enjoy this sort of book; you'll find it shelved under travel memoirs.

We're both fans of Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) and similar sorts of books. This is very much in the same vein. I could almost feel the sunshine and taste the food. I was quite happy, however, to be reading about all the heavy work, rather than helping to haul stones! ...
       Continue reading "Under the Tuscan Sun"

Under the Tuscan Sun ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Tue, 07 Oct, 11:07 Pacific

Friday October 3, 2003

Drivin' in my car

The Friday 5 for this week concerns cars... That's cool. I like cars.

  1. What vehicle do you drive?
  2. How long have you had it?
  3. What is the coolest feature on your vehicle?
  4. What is the most annoying thing about your vehicle?
  5. If money were no object, what vehicle would you be driving right now?
       Continue reading "Drivin' in my car"

Drivin' in my car ( in category Memes & Prompts ) - posted at Fri, 03 Oct, 16:00 Pacific

Thursday October 2, 2003

Low carb need not equal faux food

From the San Francisco Chronicle ( Food in the News,, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2003)

Low-carb craze grabs consumers
Onslaught of new products tempts dieters

You'd never buy most of them for their taste -- even some people who sell them admit that. They're generally not low in calories. Nutritionists raise their eyebrows at all the protein and processing they pack. And they're expensive, easily two to four times the cost of their full-carb counterparts.

But, inspired by the Atkins/South Beach/Sugar Busters low-carb weight- loss plans, people are scarfing them down, acting like sea otters at an oyster bar.

Low-carb food specialty stores are proliferating, catering to demands for the likes of cinnamon-fried pork rinds. Trend-savvy Trader Joe's is about to unveil a new Joe's Lows label for its growing low-carb line. Low-carb tortillas, chips and beer are multiplying in markets like Whole Foods, Andronico's and Walgreens.

The fear-of-fat days are officially over. Now, it's all about fear of carbs. Even french fry sales are feeling the pain.

       Continue reading "Low carb need not equal faux food"

Low carb need not equal faux food ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Thu, 02 Oct, 11:24 Pacific

Wednesday October 1, 2003

Everything I know about UI design

Found on slashdot (this explains a few things about some of the programs I've used, especially on Windoze... - V.)
Everything I know about UI design, I learned from Games
       Continue reading "Everything I know about UI design"

Everything I know about UI design ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Wed, 01 Oct, 12:39 Pacific