30 Jul 2003

Reading material

I've gotten a number of slides done, but my day has been pretty boring. Here is some reading material to tide y'all over:

Sunlight surgery may replace lasers?
Apparently some Israeli scientists have figured out that they can use sunlight, magnifying glass-on-ants style, as a safer and cheaper alternative to lasers in burning away tumours. Way cool, eh?
Exegesis 6 on Perl6 development.
Technical, but a fun read if you've ever programmed perl before (and especially if you've taken a programming languages class). I am simply giddy from all the neat new features they discuss, even if I'm not convinced they'll be able to efficiently implement them. Still, I'm an optimist. :)
How Bush shuns the media.
Self-explanatory, really. Highlight: "Mr Bush had held just eight solo news conferences in his two-and-a-half years in power. At the same stage of their terms, Bill Clinton had held 33 such events and the first President Bush 61."
Israel to block naturalising spouses of Israelis---at least if those spouses are Palestinian.
The Knesset is currently debating not granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens, although spouses of other nationalities will receive citizenship as before. The official justification---that the past 16,000 such citizens included 20 terrorists---stinks to high heaven, and the unofficial justification---that most of those marriages are to Arab Israelis, and Arabs have more children than Jews do---is even worse. The 20 are a small fraction of the total number of terrorists entering the country; and the 16,000 are a small fraction of the total number of immigrants to the country (most of the rest being Jewish). Lovely.

"IIRC, "hepatitis" is just itis of the hepa. That is, an inflamed liver." --Sam Walker

Posted by blahedo at 8:16pm | Comments (0)

29 Jul 2003

Cell tower rebooted

I think they just rebooted the local cell tower or something. First I lost signal (which makes my phone make a sound), so I took it out of my pocket, thinking I was just in a cell shadow. Then, as I looked at it, it got back analog service, switched to digital, changed the time to 11:34---which would be GMT---and then, after about twenty seconds of me staring at it openmouthed, it switched to analog again, then back to full digital cell service at five bars (which I *never* get in my office) and finally back down to its usual one or two bars.

Damnedest thing. Never seen anything like it.

Ashcroft's Corollary: "As a dispute goes on, the probability of one side claiming the other is helping terrorists approaches one." --BenjyD

Posted by blahedo at 7:40pm | Comments (0)

He's even better than I thought

I was just reading this Slate article about Dean, and at the end I saw the following information:

But one thing bothers me about Dean, and I raise it with him. He wants to renegotiate NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards—his lone departure from Clinton-style Rubinomics.... (Dean's theory in a nutshell: The structure of wealth in the United States before labor unions resembled that in Third World countries today, so in order to create middle classes in the developing world, we need to bring labor unions to them.)

Won't Dean's plan make the price of goods go up? "Yeah," he says quietly. "But so what?"

This is not the sort of thing one says insincerely, to win voters (not that I think he does that very much anyway). He believes it. He really gets that lower consumer prices are not the be-all and end-all of economic policy, that we also need to consider quality of life and not be exploitive, even of workers in foreign countries. And he's even able to articulate some further economic benefits to Being Good:

"Because in return for making the price of goods go up, you've fixed the illegal immigration problem, you've fixed the drain of jobs problem, you've created a middle class that can buy American exports. There's a lot you get for that."

Do you see why this man needs to be our next President?

"Statistics is like a bikini: what it reveals is suggestive, but what it conceals is vital." --Keith Schwols

Posted by blahedo at 2:34pm | Comments (0)

28 Jul 2003

Back in Providence

...and now it's time to buckle down and get some work done.

"Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets." --Eddy Peters

Posted by blahedo at 2:56pm | Comments (2)

24 Jul 2003

I just bought a car

That's not quite true (but I got your attention, huh?). In fact, I just ordered it and put down my deposit. It will look something like this:

[Indi Blue MINI Cooper]
Like the one in the picture, mine will be an Indi Blue MINI Cooper with white roof and mirrors, a sunroof, and silver "hole"-style wheels. Mine will have black bumpers and no fog lamps, though. And it'll be SO CUTE! It's due sometime in early October. I can't wait.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to engage you in a discussion. Backing off now." --Mike Peil

Posted by blahedo at 4:09pm | Comments (0)

All set

Ok, I think I'm done with stylesheeting this thing; all the pages should look nice and uniform now. In theory, it should look good on all modern browsers, and tolerable on older ones. Let me know if you find otherwise....

"While Casey is, in fact, a Chick Magnet as such, I feel obliged to point out that I am, in fact, married, as such." --Michael Kimmitt

Posted by blahedo at 2:48am | Comments (4)

22 Jul 2003

Strange things afoot

To get the blog up and running, I used all the old tricks I knew how to use---tables and such---to do the layout. I'm now trying to do it The Right Way, with stylesheets, and as I experiment with it, you'll see stuff in odd colours and bizarro layouts. Fear not; the effect is transient.

"Dear Jack---What's all this nonsense about birth control? We never said anything about birth control. Please check your files and advise ASAP. ---Regards, G. P.S.: Kennedy for President!" --The secret message of Fatima according to Cecil Adams

Posted by blahedo at 7:34pm | Comments (2)

21 Jul 2003

Second weekend at home

Saturday I went to the IAA meeting and hung out there at IMSA all day, then drove into the city to hit my tenth year reunion. Fun stuff. I enjoyed walking up to people and saying "hi!" as if they should recognise me---which if they hadn't seen me in ten-plus years, they were pretty unlikely to do. :)

Sunday was a family gathering where we had over as many of our relatives (on both sides) as could come. The nice thing was, none of the various branches had enough folks here that they could just hang out amongst themselves, so they were all talking to each other. Which was cool.

And today (not properly part of the weekend, I know), I've been setting up the new blog site. Welcome! It's still a little rough around the edges, but it should all be there and somewhat more fully-featured than the old one. I have comments now---just click on the link below each post. I'd love to hear from you!

"When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." --Buckminster Fuller

Posted by blahedo at 8:33pm | Comments (6)

19 Jul 2003

My week in Galesburg

I spent Tuesday through Thursday of this week in Galesburg, looking at apartments. Some were dumpy, some nice; all of them were massively cheap compared to Providence, of course. Two-bedrooms pretty consistently ran around $400. Anyway, I had settled on one when I got a last-minute call returning a message I'd left---I went to see it and ended up taking it. Slightly smaller, but way cooler. I'll have one bedroom plus a finished attic, so basically it's a two-bedroom; the kitchen appliances are vintage and in excellent condition; the floors are all hardwood; and the neighbours are all other faculty members. The apt itself is part of a duplex that got subdivided into two apartments, of which I have the upper one, so I have a downstairs neighbour who is a prof in psych, and a next-door neighbour---the landlord---who is a prof in bio. The residents of the next building over (also a duplex) also seem to all be profs.

I also set up a bank account at the Farmers and Mechanics Bank (aka just "F&M Bank"), an old Galesburg institution whose only branch outside town is in Peoria. It's got good ATM coverage, though, so that's okay.

Tomorrow I get to see people I haven't seen in ten years, at my high school reunion. Sunday I'll see a lot of my cousins and assorted other family members. And then I have to get back to my thesis, which I still need to defend. Argh, I'm so ready to just move on at this point....

"Consulting? Why would we consult you? Do you know something?" --Fr Henry Bodah

Posted by blahedo at 1:22am | Comments (0)

15 Jul 2003

First weekend at home

Saturday I saw most of my family on my dad's side at a memorial service for my great-aunt Ann---she had left in her will that as many people as possible should come and have a really big party, and her estate paid for all the distant folks to fly in. Strange idea, but cool.

Yesterday I met my sister's boyfriend's family. They're great; they've taken to our family's recipe for Hackepeter (aka "raw meat") like ducks to water, and even after Ryan left they hung around for a couple hours chatting with us. :)

And today I finally got to see Loren Kinkade for the first time. She's ten and a half weeks old and absolutely adorable.

Tomorrow I drive out to Galesburg to do some apartment shopping, open a bank account, and generally check out the town some more. Soon I should be able to give people a real address to mail me at, rather than the Providence one that is only good for another month, or my parents' in Palatine.

From the come-again-now? dept: "I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are." --Ari Fleischer

Posted by blahedo at 3:22am | Comments (0)

11 Jul 2003

On my way home

Well, in a little while I'm off to catch a bus to catch a plane to fly home for two weeks. It'll do wonders for my productivity, I'm sure. :P

"I believed then and I believe now that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was a just cause. But not every just cause requires that we go to war, especially with inadequate planning and without maximum support." --Howard Dean

Posted by blahedo at 4:46am | Comments (0)

9 Jul 2003

News flash

I just had the weirdest conversation. I mentioned that the media had finally started being more critical of the government, well, maybe not Fox News, but.... and the guy I was talking to commented that Fox was the only moderate, fair voice out there. My jaw just about hit the floor. He actually believed it. Amazing.

"Krispy Kremes are like twelve little orgasms in a box." --Kelly Mayberry

Posted by blahedo at 6:17pm | Comments (0)

8 Jul 2003

Uncanny, I tell you

Discovery: Democratic hopeful Senator Kerry bears an uncanny resemblance to President Jackson. Consider:

For comparison, here's a portrait of Jackson:

and another:

Crazy, huh?

"I'm really sick of the whole feed the baby routine. I'm tired of picking out the meals, and spooning the food in her mouth, and cleaning her afterwards. I'm looking forward to the day when she says "I'm hungry." and I can just hand her a live chicken and a gun and let her take care of it." --Jeff Vogel

Posted by blahedo at 11:42pm | Comments (0)

7 Jul 2003


This week's Comics I Didn't Understand explanations page has a great one---it's the last comic, BC, in its usual not-terribly-funny state. The explanations are fairly straightforward; but the third one (by Tim Tjarks) is CLASSIC.

"Rather than send $20 a month to feed a starving child, we as a society choose to spend $200 a month to upgrade to the Super Extra Huge SUV, with fucking rear view cameras so we don't even have to turn our bloated heads on our fat little necks to avoid crushing our evolutionarily-unviable offspring on our way to get a Shiatsu massage." --Eva Schillace

Posted by blahedo at 4:38pm | Comments (0)


It's funny---it wasn't until I really got into the crunch of having to write up my thesis that I really got such a clear notion of what was left to do. Now that I have less than a month until I defend (on 6th August), I have a million things that I realise that I ought to have tried. Some of them I'll be able to do in the intervening month. And the rest... well, that's why there are Future Work sections. But still, I wish I'd gotten started on the writeup sooner; I think that in the end I would've gotten more done. Oh well.

"Just when you had all but forgotten that carbon-based life exists above the 49th parallel, those sly Canadians have redefined their entire nation as Berkeley North." --David Montgomery, Washington Post

Posted by blahedo at 1:17am | Comments (0)

3 Jul 2003

Dean, Iowegians, and Chet Atkins

The smell was impermanent, thank God.

Went to the Dean Meetup on Wednesday; we wrote letters to Iowans about how cool we think Dean is. This month's meetup was three times bigger than last month's....

By the way, has nobody but me heard the term 'Iowegian' for people from Iowa? Not terribly serious, of course, but I must've gotten it from somewhere. (The idea being, presumably, if people from Norway are Norwegians, then people from Ioway are... you get it. Doesn't hurt that a lot of people in Iowa are part Scandinavian, ethnically....)

Right now I'm listening to my latest Apple Music Store download, the album "The Essential Chet Atkins". This guy was a brilliant guitarist. I can't even classify the style---it's listed under "Country" in the AMS, but it's nothing at all like anything I've heard on any country music station, even the older stuff. Maybe this is just too old; I think it's more like a totally different style. If anything, it's more like the folk-y stuff on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack (another excellent album, of course).

"I'm not morally superior to him: I'm smarter than he is. There's a difference." --Sam Walker

Posted by blahedo at 11:36pm | Comments (0)

1 Jul 2003



I repeat:


So there I was, puttering at home for a few minutes, trying to decide whether to eat there or to grab something on Thayer Street. And my eyes fell upon the mantel over the (disused) fireplace in my dining room, and the pumpkin that was on it.


In fact, it looked like the top half of a pumpkin. (You can see where this is going.) And closer inspection showed evidence of no less than three species of mould, merrily growing across the surface. A sticky-looking (I wasn't about to touch it) pool of long-dried pumpkin juice covered two-thirds of the mantel, soiling the bottoms of assorted bottles of alcohol that were there and two little stuffed animals that had been there for ages. I realised, to my horror, that although I had no recollection whatsoever of ever having seen this pumpkin before, whole or not, it must have been there for many, many months. I shudder to think that it might have been since last October.

Cleaning it up was one of the grosser things I've done. I suppose that may say something about the charmed life I've led, as I can certainly imagine many grosser things I could have had to do, but in point of fact, this one was definitely up there. I went and got a plastic grocery bag (which I carefully checked for holes), and juryrigged a way to hold it there while I took a broken spatula and tried to move the pumpkin remains. The pumpkin deflated, and the bottom gave out, so after I scooped the top half of the thing into the bag, I had to scrape a mess of pulp and seeds into the bag. All while desperately attempting not to breathe. The bag got tied off and thrown in the dumpster.

Then, of course, I had to go in there with a bucket of ammonia water and clean up. Yuck. The bottles were fine, though the stuffed toys had to go. The mantel itself has a permanent stain in the paint, and what I really hope is not a permanent smell; right where the pumpkin was, the paint is actually bubbled from the nasty stuff.

What gets me most about this is, how could it have been there so long? The stuff that's up there is not stuff I really interacted with, ever, but over the mantel was a van Gogh print that one of my housemates put up there just a month or two ago, and on the mantel itself (in front of the juice puddle) was a row of little party/votive candles that are the forte of my other housemate and must have been replaced in the last few months. And they didn't notice this thing? Not to mention other people who were over in the last, oh, year. It's not like my friends are particularly soft-spoken; how is it that none of them ever said, "dude, what's with the rotting pumpkin?"

Anyway, it's as cleaned up as it's going to be, now. A new coat of paint (and stripping the existing one) is recommended, but hey, I'm moving out in a month, so that's not my job. My housemates are out of town right now, so I can't wait to ask them about it. Oh! I just realised I should've taken a picture. Oh well, pictures weren't really foremost in my mind---I really just needed to get that out of there RIGHT AWAY. Ugh.


Posted by blahedo at 6:54pm | Comments (0)


Woo hoo! I now have access to www.blahedo.org. Nothing there yet, and I don't really have time to play with it yet. But it's mine!

On the prescription drug coverage bill: "Ted Kennedy is for it, and The Wall Street Journal is against it. On the other hand, the White House is for it, and pretty much everyone on the left except Kennedy is against it. The press is helpfully wringing its hands and announcing, 'This is *soooo* complicated.'" --Molly Ivins

Posted by blahedo at 12:08pm | Comments (0)