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Thursday, October 2, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

From amptoons, the very interesting "A Crack Dealer Tells His Side Of The Story" (if anyone can find a URL that gets there with a non-numeric IP address, send it along). An amazing amount of rationalization in there. (Quite a bit of rationalization in most lives.)

Nothing is knocking at the insides of my fingers, struggling to get written, tonight. We're sitting on the big bed (except for the little boy, who's in his bed and probably asleep), and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (I think that's what it is) is on the telly. The little daughter is on the iBook, somewhere out on the Web, and I'm here typing in my weblog on the ThinkPad. Outside it's dark and deliciously cold.

I love the air at this season.

(I don't suppose anyone has a spare ticket or four to the Joan Baez concert at the Paramount a week from tomorrow? I just noticed it in the paper today, and when I called they said they were all sold out. Shucks! We don't get nearly enough Cultcha 'round here.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

October already! Pumpkin Pie?

So Madonna was on the television at the Club this morning, on a little rack near the ceiling above the stationary bicycles, being interviewed on some Morning Show or other, and the reporter asked her if she had the "moral right" to write children's books after having done a book called "Sex". And she said what I think is exactly the right answer to that question; she said "I don't understand that question."

'Cause it's a really stupid question.

Ms. Ciccione

I haven't made an extensive study of this particular celebrity, but I have a pretty positive opinion of her. She seems brash and edgy and intelligent and stuff. Too bad she's not running for governor of California.

- 34 for "naked pictures of helen"
- 7 for "helen naked pictures"
- 3 for "yahoo webcam"
- 2 for "iris chacon"
- 2 for "naked helen pictures"
- 1 for "atlas shrugged"
- 1 for "ayn rand"
- 1 for "blog"
- 1 for "cd32 bleems"
- 1 for "dr leslie steambender"

(I suppose it's way too late in the day to get on the list for "Madonna naked pictures".)

The usual story (scroll downward) says, of course, that Dr. Steambender was killed by the team of Freemason assassins that snatched the Ultimate Formula "X" from his grasp just before he read it aloud (and thereby destroyed the entire universe and any associated deities). This seems unlikely to me, though. He may have been insane, but surely during the studies that eventually brought him to the Ultimate Formula "X" he would have encountered and mastered lesser formulae, and it's hard to believe that even the most single minded mad scientist would fail to ensure, quite reliably, that he would live long enough to complete his obsessive lunatic ambition of universal apocalypse?

My guess is that either Steambender still lives, and is plotting to recover Ultimate Formula "X" from its arcanely warded crypt under the Tower, or that the story is much deeper than this, and that perhaps the Freemasons did not get the right paper at all, and Dr. Stonebender has something much subtler in mind than mere universal non-being.

But you never know.

Amazon Item O' The Week: Qwert shmarble!

Asked to recommend a URL, various of you rose to the occasion. I present these without comment, except to note that they are odd, interesting, amusingly meta, and so on, just as you'd expect from yourselves. None contain any graphic sex, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.


Some readers also used the box for other purposes, in the time-honored tradition:

One more thing about chocolate, it's not as taste as placenta.
I mean tasty.

I find it endearing that you forgo the usual phrasing "my little daughter," and instead opt for the less possessing, if more vague, usage "the little daughter."

Lindt 70% is the best chocolate I've ever had

I'm not sure why I say "the" there rather than "my". It definitely sounds more accurate. While she's certainly and always mine, it's also always been completely clear that she isn't mine at all. If you know what I mean.

And finally, a reader sends us an entire story; one that we like enough to close today's entry with. Good night!

In the pocket of my raincoat, the left pocket, in fact, is a small, smooth, white stone. Quartz, I think, and run smooth by centuries of the rhythm of the oceans in northern Scotland, from which it did not come. I found it there, on the beach that must be worked, around the point from the small fishing village, around the point where people never went because there was nothing there, nothing there but small rocks and rugged coastline. I picked it up there, and turned it over in the palm of my hand, its smooth, cool surface wet in my hand, and I knew that I had to keep it, to remind myself of that place, of that moment, of the sky and the ocean and the cold and the peaceful isolation of that place.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Just a month until NaNoWriMo! Everyone go and donate a few bucks so that thousands of people can write really atrocious novels in a very short period!

I'm hoping to do it again this year, although there's like this big important milestone at work in like pretty early December, so it'll require even more foolish intensity than in the past to actually write a novel at the same time. If I do grit my teeth enough to do it, I think it'll be some sort of hard (or at least firm) SF novel, dealing with issues of galactic culture and the Singularity and chaos and so on. Just because I've been reading so much Vinge and so on lately (and because I've already done the "vaguely modern vaguely quasi-European no special genre" and the "weird non-human alien SF" genres in prior years, and mysteries take too much planning).

Right now I'm reading Stephen Baxter's Vacuum Diagrams. It's fun, basically clued SF, a "novel" made by tenuously knitting together a bunch of short stories. My complaints are that the first three (four?) short stories in it all have exactly the same plot (humans find life in some unexpected place out in the solar system), and that he has really strange notions about how much (or actually how little) change will happen in the next thousand years or so.

The stories claim to be set in like 3600 to 3900 (so far), but everything's entirely comprehensible: society and culture and people seem to be exactly like they are now except that we can travel really fast around the solar system. Not alot of ferment in fifteen hundred years! One story is set in 3672 and another in 3948, but they might as well have been happening a week apart; apparently nothing much happened in those 276 years either. This is a problem, considering how much has changed in, say, the last fifteen hundred, or even just 276, years. Maybe Baxter has an explanation for the glacial progress in some other novel, but I dunno. I find myself just assuming that they're all really set in like 2075 or something, and then the problem mostly goes away.

Interesting piece about insecurities in routers (the boxes that shuffle around the data that travels the Net). Word among the gurus is that it's actually very hard to find an insecure router to break into these days, but not for happy reasons. Seems that most of the thousands of routers that were vulnerable have already been taken over by bad guys, and the bad guys almost always secure the routers that they break into, to prevent further breakers-in from taking control away. Lovely, eh?


Yes, we really ARE monks! We really DO pray and help others. Hundreds of years ago, monks survived by baking bread, making wine, or copying manuscripts. We survive by selling Ink and Toner Supplies online, at HUGE discounts .....and YOU benefit!

Theme funerals.

(Last two links from Morford's Morning Fix, which I still greatly enjoy despite a certain unchangingness in his ranting style. In tomorrow's column he rhapsodizes about Apple's design sense and so on. (The columns that sfgate dares to actually put on their site are somewhat milder than the Morning Fix, but they give the general flavor.))

From abuddha, an inneresting-looking page about some feller trying with some intensity to figure out why there is anything. I've skimmed it just enough to know that I want to read it at least carefully enough to figure out whether it's interesting or just crackpotty.

Recently noted by their effects on weblogs.com, a couple more of the vast array of weblog enabling sites: Journal Space, and Persian Blog, the latter notable for being (apparently) a hosting site for weblogs in Persian. At least I think that's what it is, but I'm not sure because (heh heh) it's in Persian.

So today at the Lab I was sitting there programming, and someone appeared in the door of my office saying "do you smell smoke?", and I did, and in fact we could see it vaguely roiling about under the lights, and the air had that "you don't really want to breathe me" feeling to it in my office and at least a couple others nearby, and someone called Security and they evacuated the building. Which was unusual.

Then when we were all sitting around in the parking lot where you sit around for fire drills (and also for real fires), watching the fire trucks coming and going, someone came out of the building, and word filtered back through the crowd that they were looking for me.

Which was very unusual.

Disconcerting, even. I followed them back into the building with some trepidation, sure that some old something that I'd had illegally plugged into some powerstrip or something under my desk had shorted out, or that the piles of paper in my office had spontaneously combusted from age, or that otherwise I was to blame for wasting huge amounts of human time and firetruck mileage and who knows what-all.

Turned out that they suspected one of the computers in my office of being the source of the smoke, and wanted me to tell them about the computers, and whether they worked, and whether I could make them work now. The computers all did in fact work (except for the one with the hard disk that went bad the other month), and in fact they eventually determined that the smoke was coming from a burned-out air conditioning fan motor in the ceiling of the hallway and not from my office at all, so that was nice.

And I got to pal around with some of the competent good-with-atoms people who respond to fire and earthquakes and medical emergencies and stuff, and they teased me about the "My nose is on fire" sign on my door, and said that I must have caused the whole thing by typing too fast. That was nice, too. And I even got some programming done out in the parking lot (or actually in the shade of the trees at the edge of the parking lot, out of the sun and still barely within WiFi range of the building).

An interesting afternoon in general.

Monday, September 29, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Weekday readers note that there's a Saturday entry below. (But you're all using the rss feed anyway, so you already knew that, right?)

Saw a thing on the news the other morning, with some telemarketing exec type talking about the Do Not Call legislation. He claimed (a) that they already had their own Do Not Call lists and therefore are already not calling people who don't want to be called, and (b) if they stop calling people who don't want to be called, thousands of people will lose their jobs.

He said them in pretty quick succession, too.

Big story whooshing through blogland; I followed it from Medley to kos and then off to the normal press:

The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman’s husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned.

(See also the Washington Post and the Independent (UK) and Slate (awhile back), as well as the amusingly-named Open Source Politics, and for that matter all of blogland, but only smallish bits of traditional medialand.)

So a long time ago I mentioned a very funny thing about why DSL modems sometimes need resetting that I'd seen on some website, but couldn't actually find again; but now I've found it:

What you can do if your connection is slow:
First, please reboot your DSL modem, some models perform error correction and as errors build up they periodically need to be cleared out.

They should have like a little hose on the back of the modem that the errors could drain out through. I don't know if it's legal to pour modem errors down the sink, though.

Saturday, September 27, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

The best part of wakin' up...
  is Folgers in your cup. ®

This strikes me as just the sort of slogan the cocaine companies would have, if cocaine were legal.

"Columbian Snow: it's what life's about."

So anyway we got this little package of Folgers Classic Roast Ground Coffee in the mail (free, free, free!); apparently they're very excited about their new plastic packaging (plastic packaging; what an innovation!). Inside the plastic container (M says it reminds her of the new plastic paint cans they have) there's this foil package of (apparently) coffee.

On the inner package it says "We recommend using approximately one tablespoon of ground coffee per six ounces of fresh, cold water."

Now I don't know much about coffe, but that sounds pretty awful. I mean, if you just dump a tablespoon of ground coffee into some cold water you're not going to have coffee, you're going to have cold water with a bunch of coffee grounds in it. Ick!

I called the 800 number on the package ("Questions? Comments?"), but they're only there from nine to six on weekdays, and the only "frequently asked questions" in the call director are "how do you store it?" and "how long does it last?" and "how much caffeine does it contain?" Nothing about what you should do if you don't like cold coffee full of grounds.

I tried their website also, but the page about 'brewing' isn't much help, either. Apparently you're supposed to use some kind of "machine" or something.

I dunno; if these people want to convert the world to coffee-drinking, they're going to have to do a better job with the instructions.

("If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.")

Sloomod sighed, "But this Sonovisitrontubbies is just sinister and weird." Lemillion wriggled a few cillia in agreement, "If you don't like it all you have to do is retune the 'tron. The Completely Over-The-Top Violence Experience will be broadcast shortly when the sproglings are all in stasis."

I made pancakes for breakfast this morning, then I spent pretty much the entire day battling atoms. I cut the jungle back away from the wooden box that we keep the trash cans in (or that we used to keep the trash cans in before the jungle swallowed it up and the insects began to devour it), which involved a massive struggle with the Giant Mutant Killer Vines from Mars. Fortunately they have a very slow reaction time, and I was mostly victorious.

Then I went down to Home Despot and bought four feet of one-by-two, and four feet of one-by-three, and four twenty-seven inch pieces of one-by-six white pine shiplap (that's my Word for the Day: "shiplap"), and some Wood Preservative (because Home Despot didn't have any pressure treated shiplap) and some Plastic Wood, and brought it all home and combined it in various arcane ways (after rooting around in the basement for some Liquid Nails and for appropriate fasteners, for which I settled on 1 1/2 inch drywall screws after rejecting many other candidates), and eventually the wooden box had a rebuilt and reattached lid with fewer insects living in it, and was surrounded by pine bark mulch rather than jungle, and it was time for dinner.

(Turns out that some tiny feelers from the Giant Mutant Killer Vines from Mars had infiltrated the bags of pine bark mulch in the two or three years they've been sitting there next to the driveway, and I got quite a shock when I picked one up and found that it was attached to the ground by a hideous pulsating tendril. Well, not actually pulsating. But it might as well have been.)


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