log (2009/08/21 to 2009/08/27)

Last weekend was the little daughter's nineteenth (nineteenth!!!) birthday. M has written the best weblog post ever on the subject of the little girl, as as birthday card to her. Go an' read it, if only to make me happy. *8)

And as her next post says, we all went into The City (if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!), and wandered around and had pizza and stuff (Brick Oven Pizza 33, 6th Avenue an' 14th Street, Manhattan), and all like that.

I took a picture of the streeet outside of one place where we (well, the ladies) shopped:

Anthropologie, NYC

That's an "Anthropologie" store somewhere in darkest Manhattan. The name of the store's a little pretentious, but I like their stuff; if they had boy's clothes I might buy some. (They sort of remind me of the old Banana Republic, back before they were assimilated.)

Anyway, on a table in this Anthropologie, not for sale, there was one of these:

Smith Corona

A rather battered old Smith Corona typewriter, just like the one we had in the basement when I was a kid! I'll bet it was even "Elite" (10 letters to the inch, rather than 8, or whatever it was).

The main difference between this one and that one being that this one had been rather more battered, and the lid was trying to close on the top row of keys, and some of the hitty-things that make the letters on the paper were crossed, and the carriage wouldn't move much even if you pushed on the levers.

So while waiting for the ladies to... do whatever ladies do for hours in clothing stores, I sat on the chair next to the little table there, and eventually I picked up the typewriter and turned it upside down and peered at the innards over my glasses, and blew some of the dust out, and bent the lid a bit back into shape, and uncrossed the hitty-things, and poked and prodded it gently to see if I could get the carriage to move better.

And it turns out that if you do this, eventually one of the fourteen-year-old store clerks (perhaps the one that lost the toss in the back room) will come over and say in a rather urgent and/or frightened voice, "Can I help you, sir?" and "Can I do anything?", and other clerkish exclamations.

So then you smile and put it down and say "Just working on the typewriter; I had one like it when I was a kid."

And then she laughs nervously and says "I think alot of us did," which struck me as pretty funny, or surprising, or pleasing, because I'll bet most fourteen-year-olds in Manhattan didn't actually have typewriters when they were kids, but maybe this one actually did, an heirloom or a garage-sale find or something, and maybe she actually typed on it some, at the same time that she was learning to text on a cellphone, and type on a real keyboard with an effective backspace key.

Bill from work writes:

Remember Babblefish invariants?
Via boing boing, http://www.translationparty.com has done sometime similar with what appears to be google translate, english->japanese->english repeat until stable. There don't appear to be any cycles, and the invariant is often entirely wrong.

The interesting twist is that they have a merchandising tie-in - once you've found the invariant for a phrase, you can buy T-shirts, mugs, mousepads, hoodies with the phrase.

Pretty funny! The classic "I like pizza" turns out to already be an invariant, and I did find a cycle, on "Not responsible for personal belongings." The most amusing one I found in a bit of trying was "Don't forget to carry a towel", which came out something like "Please please login towel" the first time I tried it, but today goes off into outer space along the lines of "Please please please please please please please do not forget to run please".

Which is a bit of a surprise.

In playing with it I was also surprised by how often small but important words (like "not" in particular) get lost in the shuffle. Something to remember, perhaps, about automatic translation from the Japanese.

From one of the various Second Life weblogs I read, a neat YouTube video, about Second Life I suppose: My Friends are Robots, by Colemarie Soleil.

I got some spam from K.C.landscape Services, advertising their offerings. The odd thing is that they are in "Kuala Lumpur, Selangor - Malaysia". And I'll bet they don't do housecalls this far.

I also got this spam:

Good Day,
I want to place an order for water vending machine from your company.I want to know the price range including tax as well as you payment options.

Regards, David

This was at my work address, to the extent that that makes any difference.

I know email is essentially free and all, but how can it possibly make sense to blast out a price-quotation request for a water vending machine to everyone in the world?

The time saved by not sending it only to (for instance) makers of water vending machines is surely more than made up for by the time spent replying to angry letters, mail bounces, and people who answer this kind of spam with fake price quotations (hm, why didn't I think of that earlier?).

The Australia Sex Party! Not what you're thinking. Or if it is what you're thinking, you need to take a hard look at your priorities. *8)

I feel like there was other stuff I wanted to write, and given how absurdly long it's been since last time I'm sure there was, now and then. But this will do for now.

Be good!