Monday January 31, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_04

The weather was been nice last week although there's been a storm in the Pacific - I kept getting Coastal Flood Watch and High Tide warnings from the weather service.

We did a Perl & Egg Rolls SIG meeting (Perl programmers meet for Chinese dinner) in The City. Good food; nine people. We adjourned for ice cream afterwards (my fortune had said that "joy and contentment lay around the corner" :-) Rich and I split an "apple pie sundae" - apple pie fillng/topping (heated), pieces of "crust" (like shortbread, two scoops of ice cream. yummm. We could make that at home some time!

I had another dental appointment, this time to get the cavity filled ;-( I do that under nitrous. With the noise-canceling headphones and the iPod tuned to my favorite Air Pudding, it wasn't tooo bad. It was kind of funny though; this was the first time I'd used the iPod this way and I wasn't sure of the controls. Always before I've used it via iTunes through the desktop interface! ...
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Weekly Wrap-up 2005_04 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 31 Jan, 21:48 Pacific

Saturday January 29, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Older than yesterday, younger than tomorrow.

Dear Vicki

The weather is much different today than it was on the day you were born. Then we were having a January thaw and since there was some snow on the ground and the air that came in was very warm it was very foggy. The road out at the Y at the mall was a little different and Dad was trying to find his way to Bellefonte at 2ish in the morning and at the Y we both, literally, had our heads out of the window trying to see the road. But we made it to Bellefonte Hospital on Willowbank Street where you were born about 1:30 in the afternoon.

Hope you will be celebrating in style. Dinner out at a favorite restaurant, maybe.

Happy, happy birthday, we love you so, ---Mom

Happy Birthday to Me! ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 29 Jan, 11:56 Pacific

Friday January 28, 2005

Treasures 2005_04

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

  • A stretch "Hummer", license HUMMROS
  • Full moon nights in our "moon room"
  • "frozen-peas" hail bouncing off the roof next door. We have funny storms here.
  • Raven stretching up to wrap his paws around and hug my knee. Mwrp?
  • A handsome little falcon(?) with a rusty breast and black and grey feathers, sitting in the top of a pine tree in our "back 40" watching something near the ground _very_ intently. Then he stooped and all the little brown birds at the feeder - 40 feet away - exploded into the bushes for a few minutes to hide.
  • Bebop stretching up up up to get to my shoulder. "Pick me up! Hug me!"
  • Rain diamonds - we have chains running from the gutters at the front of the house to the ground. Sometimes just after the rain stops there's just enough water coming down the chain that each link fills with water; then the sun sparkles through like jewels.
  • Coming in from the hot tub to sit in our moon room and cool down. Mezzaluna on Rich's feet; Bebop curled in the crook of my arm.
Treasures 2005_04 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Fri, 28 Jan, 23:58 Pacific

Wednesday January 26, 2005

Just Say N2O

My dental hygienist found a cavity at my recent cleaning :-( I had it filled today.

I do not "do" novacaine. I do not like to be stuck with a red-hot railroad spike, then have my lip be numb for the next four hours. I take nitrous.

Nitrous oxide is a very safe and popular agent still utilized by dentists today. It is much less toxic than alternatives, such as chloroform, with far less risk of explosion than ether. The main use for N2O is usually as a mild sedative and analgesic. It helps to allay anxiety that many patients may have toward dental treatment, and it offers some degree of painkilling ability.

School of Chemistry, University of Bristol Molecule of the Month

I find the painkilling ability to be quite sufficient. It's interesting how nitrous works. It doesn't shut off the sensation (but then, neither does novacaine). What nitrous does is flick a switch in my brain just before things reach the point of "too much". It's always something like "Oh, my, this could be... not that bad. Ohh my... this could really be... not that bad either."

This is not to say that I like to get my teeth filled. I am not a masochist. It's still unpleasant. It's just not... painful. But it's better than the alternative. And with headphones and soft music, the time pases.

(My Dad does it without nitrous or novacaine. Whooooweeee!)

Just Say N2O ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 26 Jan, 18:26 Pacific

Tuesday January 25, 2005

Fun With Spam

Spam is a plague, a disaster, a dreadful ramification of the Information Age, a torrential onslaught on the email inboxes of all right-thinking and innocent people. It can also, on occasion, be fun. Sometimes we have to take our amusement where we find it.

One of my "favorite" recent spam techniques is the effort to which some spammers go to prevent spam catching software from (correctly!) identifying their misbegotten drivel as, well... spam. They obfuscate the subject; the obfuscate the body. Sometimes they go to such extremes of obfuscation that one wonders what they had in mind originally!

For example, I recently received this in my Inbox:

    Subject: of oysters in huge

There's something both oddly surreal and compelling about it. I feel I should sit and meditate on the hidden meanings. Or something.

The body was considerably less interesting, a typical m o rrtgage [sic] "offer". They should have stopped while they were ahead. ...
       Continue reading "Fun With Spam"

Fun With Spam ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Tue, 25 Jan, 22:43 Pacific

Sunday January 23, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_03

Monday was a holiday so this was a short week. I like those ;-)

I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday. uh oh. I have a little cavity; they're gonna drill it & fill it next week :-( It's very small but they said it's better to fix now than wait & watch. Sigh.

We had dinner Tuesday night at Pasta Pomodoro; they were donating 10% of all sales on Tuesday to the Tsunami relief fund.

The traffic light at the corner was blinking red when I drove in to the Job on Wednesday. This usually indicates a power outage and it did this time. I went back home where there was light and power for the computer. I couldn't get into the company intranet till 3:00 pm (no VPN access) but I could work; I had downloaded the documents I needed the day before. ...
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Weekly Wrap-up 2005_03 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sun, 23 Jan, 21:12 Pacific

Saturday January 22, 2005

Treasures 2005_03

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
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Treasures 2005_03 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 22 Jan, 10:35 Pacific

Friday January 21, 2005

Men, Women, and Web Services

You've probably heard the statement that when it comes to communication, men are from Mars, while women are from Venus? A concept straight from the title of a book by John Gray, this highlights an idea made popular by Deborah Tannen (You Just Don't Understand) in 1990. When men and women try to communicate, they often seem to be from different planets.

On the other hand, I bet this is the first time you've heard of the idea that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and web services are from Betelgeuse. :-) That's the title of a paper (in PDF format) that I found while surfing around on the web. The authors extend the theme to the problems of communicating between legacy applications and new Web applications. ...
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Men, Women, and Web Services ( in category Random Thoughts , WebTech ) - posted at Fri, 21 Jan, 21:26 Pacific

Thursday January 20, 2005

Skin Printer

Scientists at Manchester University's School of Materials (in the UK) have developed a printerthat prints... skin!

Using the same principle as an ink-jet printer, experts are able to take skin cells from a patient's body, multiply them, then print out a tailor-made strip of skin, ready to sew on to the body. The wound's dimensions are entered into the printer to ensure a perfect fit.
"It's not like printing a sheet of paper. We can print a few millimetres in depth and build it up layer-upon-layer until, in principle, we could produce bone fragments the size of a golf ball.

"It is difficult for a surgeon to reconstruct any complex disfiguring of the face using CT scans, but with this technology we are able to build a fragment which will fit exactly. We can place cells in any designed position to grow tissue or bone."

[ ref: Manchester News Online, article, Wednesday, 19th January 2005 ]

Wow. What will they think of next.
Skin Printer ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Thu, 20 Jan, 17:42 Pacific

Wednesday January 19, 2005

Comment but nofollow

First it was graffiti on walls. Then it was junk mail,. In the "information age" it's junk faxes and an increasing torrent of undesirable offers in our emailboxes. In the past year, there's been a major increase in the volume of a new kind of graffiti junk spam — weblog comment spam (ich).

Comment spam has lately become more than a minor annoyance for the site owner. But, with the help of other members of the weblogging community, we've been fighting back.

One tool, available for those who use Movable Type, is MT-Blacklist, a plugin that lets you easily manage and delete comment spam. I've been using the Blacklist plugin for about a year now; it prevented the need for me to turn off comments entirely. Even better, as of MT 3.*, comments can now be moderated as well. Between MT-Blacklist and moderating, a lot of my troubles have vanished. ...
       Continue reading "Comment but nofollow"

Comment but nofollow ( in category WebTech ) - posted at Wed, 19 Jan, 18:33 Pacific

Monday January 17, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_02

It rained heavily early in the week, then settled for being mostly grey, except for Wednesday which was gorgeous. There was frost on the rooftops on Wednesday and blue in the afternoon. On Thursday morning we had heavy fog. Friday and Saturday were just grey.

We went to a talk at SLAC on Monday, then to dinner in Palo Alto. By the time we left dinner (about 7pm) there was less traffic (good) but a lot more rain (nasty). It was a bad drive home made worse because we were in separate cars. I was pretty shaky when I got home. I took a hot neck-sock and went to bed for an hour. Then got up and sat in the hot tub, then went back to bed for the night. I'm glad I don't have a regular commute like that anymore.

Tuesday I stopped off at Sears to return a pair of Lands End Marinac boots (these are great boots but I had ordered the wrong size ;-( I was able to get the right size there at Sears. Hoorah. ...
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Weekly Wrap-up 2005_02 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 17 Jan, 12:30 Pacific

Saturday January 15, 2005

Treasures 2005_02

"Life ... is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?"
-- Margot Fonteyn

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the second week of 2005. ...
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Treasures 2005_02 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 15 Jan, 11:30 Pacific

Thursday January 13, 2005

IT & Tea - Weblogging Presentation

I attended a presentation on weblogging today. Rich suggested I attend as he couldn't promise a properly complete recap :-)
Speaker: Terry Huwe - Director of Library and Information Resources- UC Berkeley

It seems everywhere you look these days, people are talking and thinking about Blogging. But just how relevant is Blogging? Is it just another "transitional" technology, or is it here to stay? Terry Huwe will explore these questions, covering what Blogs are, how they work, and what their value points are. This talk will explore both the "big picture"--how Blogs fit into the "information ecologies" of today's organizations--as well as the basic technical skills you need to get started. Attendees will learn what the top Blogging products are and how to find out more about them, what's new and emerging in the Blogosphere, and how to make strategic, informed decisions for evaluating Blogging as an information management tool.

The presentation focused on the potential that weblogging has for organizations, such as research organizations, libraries, institutions and corporations, more than individuals. Apparently weblogging has been the hot topic at the last two "Internet Librarian" conferences and the most recent "Computers in Libraries" conference. As Mr Huwe said, weblogs provide fast movement of content to the web without touching a server. "What's not to like?" ...
       Continue reading "IT & Tea - Weblogging Presentation"

IT & Tea - Weblogging Presentation ( in category WebTech ) - posted at Thu, 13 Jan, 21:00 Pacific

Tuesday January 11, 2005

Three Centuries of Science in the Kitchen

We went to a talk yesterday by Harold McGee, Author of The Curious Cook and the recently revised and updated, On Food and Cooking

The kitchen is a laboratory of applied science. Food preparation has played a role in the development of science, and scientists have influenced everyday cooking for better and for worse, from the invention of the pressure cooker to modern-day "molecular gastronomy." Harold McGee will recount some of this little-known history, and report on his own research into such questions as: Why do French cooks insist on whipping egg whites in copper bowls? How many liters of mayonnaise can you make with one egg yolk? Can thermocouples and computers help you cook a better hamburger? And why does the spatter from a frying pan end up on the inside of a cook's eyeglasses?
       Continue reading "Three Centuries of Science in the Kitchen"
Three Centuries of Science in the Kitchen ( in category Show & Tell ) - posted at Tue, 11 Jan, 18:25 Pacific

Monday January 10, 2005

Fixed-width fonts

I love fonts. I collect fonts. I especially love "handwritten" fonts.

As a programmer, however, and constant email user, I need to use fixed-width fonts, preferably with easily distinguished characters. So how do I mix and match my love for handwritten fonts with fixed-width programmer's fonts? Take a look at some of the cool fixed-width fonts I've found!

Fixed-width fonts ( in category SciTech , Special Interests ) - posted at Mon, 10 Jan, 00:05 Pacific

Sunday January 9, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up 2005_01

The first full week of 2005 has been off and on rainy and clear (somewhat more rainy than clear).

Proverbcat B Proverbcat F My new calendars arrived (I was a little late ordering a few of them). My office calendar this year is the Proverbial Cats wall calendar.

We've got a World Wildlife Fund songbirds calendar in the bathroom (pretty) and various other calendars around the house. The kitchen calendar, for the 5th or 6th year running, is Sandra Boynton's infamous Mom's Family Calendar (Who goes Where and When but not Why).

I renewed my drivers' license this week (it expires the end of this month). Because I have renewed twice previously by mail, this time I had to come in for a new picture and thumbprint. I gave myself plenty of time to get there and stand in the check-in. In fact, had so much time that I stopped off at Krispy Kreme (across the street) and bought a dozen pumpkin spice cake donuts (I froze 10 of them when I got home). ...
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Weekly Wrap-up 2005_01 ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sun, 09 Jan, 23:10 Pacific

Saturday January 8, 2005

Treasures 2005_01

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words.

These are my Treasures for the first week of 2005.

  • A new year
  • New calendars!
  • Krispy Kreme pumpkin spice cake donuts (the only KK donut I like). Available October - January only. I bought a dozen and froze them!
  • A snoozey snuggle with the kitties on a rainy day.
  • A big yellow tree fungus on a tree I passed on my drive home from the Job.
  • A cute little white doggy in a car at the grocery store; a cute little white & black doggy on a walk with his human near a different store
  • Upside down kitties scattered around my office
  • Exploding ice cubes! (I make a cup of hot tea in the mornings and put in one ice cube to bring it down to a more drinkable temperature. This morning the ice cube exploded!)
  • iced coffee (my afternoon beverage)
  • kitty chitters (that cute krkrkkrkkrkk sound)
  • A nifty technological gadget at the eye doctors (weblog fodder!)
  • Sandra Boynton and chocolate (and one of my new calendars)


    Treasures 2005_01 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 08 Jan, 00:12 Pacific

Friday January 7, 2005


Optomap I had an eye appointment today. They have a "new" gadget called Optomap (they've had it for about a year now). The patient looks into a 4" diameter hole in the front of a big white box (face turned sideways, nose smooshed into place). A green light flashes and the machine takes a picture of the back of the eye. Repeat for the other eye and then, back to the exam room to look at the pictures. The images are then stored in the computer as a permanent record of the condition of the patient's retina at that exam.

Conventional Retinal Imaging Technology only captures a small area of the retina [about 30 degrees] at one time. ... In contrast to the simple illuminating effects of whitelight in a conventional examination, the Optimap allows review of a 200 degree internal scan which is viewed in separate wavelengths of light."
Not only that, but there's no need for eye drops, fuzzy vision for the next hour, or those funny plastic sunglasses.

My optometrist pointed out the optic nerve, which shows as a bright yellow spot in the center of the frame, and the macula, a dark smudge. I could see a bunch of veins running to the optic nerve. I asked if the image showed that I was nearsighted and he said yes. Apparently nearsighted people have some "fraying" around the edge of the optic nerve (although I don't have much of that). ...
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Optomap ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 07 Jan, 23:58 Pacific

Monday January 3, 2005

Weekly Wrap-up (Mon Dec. 27 - Sun Jan 2)

Zodiac Onblack

Happy 2005

It's been a wet week. Lots of storms passing through. We've had rain followed by sun and blue sky, followed by more rain. The snow level has gotten down to 300 feet according to the weather reports, which means that if we could see Mt. Diablo (barring the fog) we'd see snow on the peak.

Last week's computer gremlins returned to nibble at us all when our friends tried to upgrade the OS and the system crashed. So friend Bruce drove the computer back down to us on Tuesday. We reinstalled it (and reinstalled it). We tried to upgrade it. Finally we ended up simply replacing it entirely. Rich found a 450 MHz blue & white G3 on for a good price. We swapped that for one of our machines (our 300 MHz media-server), then gave the hardware for the media server to the friends and are giving the "intermittently unstable" box to yet another friend whose son wants to try Mac OS X. That friend loves to tinker with hardware so this should be a good deal all around. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up (Mon Dec. 27 - Sun Jan 2)"

Weekly Wrap-up (Mon Dec. 27 - Sun Jan 2) ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 03 Jan, 07:53 Pacific

Saturday January 1, 2005

On Intelligence

Are you interested in how the mind works? So is Jeff Hawkins (of Palm OS fame) and he's written a very interesting book about it. Read my review and followup essay.

On Intelligence ( in category Books, Movies, Music , SciTech ) - posted at Sat, 01 Jan, 19:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday January 1, 2005

Treasures 2004_52

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words. These are my Treasures for the past week.

  • Receiving as a gift something I really wanted but no one knew! How wonderful.
  • A nice dip in the hot tub on a glowing moonlit night.
  • The sound of rain on the sunroom (rainroom!) roof.
  • My kitties nearby for a three-day weekend.
  • Watching the kitties happily playing with new Christmas cattoys.
  • Two Friday holidays in a row (so two four day weeks in a row!)
  • New Years Eve Midnight fireworks
Treasures 2004_52 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 01 Jan, 00:40 Pacific