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February 27, 2001

Professional Reading

I finally got my copy of The Haskell School of Expression. It looks like an interesting book, and will perhaps be more engaging than the other Haskell book I've got, Haskell: The Craft of Functional Programming.

As I read the introduction, I downloaded a copy of the most recent edition of Hugs98, which is an interpreter implementing (most of) the Haskell 98 standard. This, and the Hugs Graphics Lib, are used in all the examples in the book. There is just one problem:

Warning! The Hugs Graphics Library does not work with the February 2001 release of Hugs. We hope to release a fix soon..

And the 2000 release of Hugs98 is nowhere to be found. Since I'm not so expert a Haskell user as to be confident patching libraries (thanks to the helpful soul who made some such suggestions), I will be waiting for said fix. In the meantime I am left reading...

Modern C++ Design, by Andrei Alexandrescu. I've read his articles posted to the Usenet groups comp.lang.c++.moderated and comp.std.c++, and the guy is a mad genius! The first chapter of the book is interesting, and of course, it is all about features which are not available in the version of the C++ compiler we use at work. Fortunately, there is one inexpensive compiler I can get from Comeau Computing, for around $50, which Alexandrescu says supported all the features used in the book, so I'll probably be getting a copy. First I'll try the 2.95.2 version of gcc, but I suspect there will be problems...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:22 AM

Bush in Florida

Various articles have been making the rounds this week, most seemingly stemming from a Knight-Ridder story, reporting that ballot examinations in Miami-Dade indicate that Bush would have won the election even if the ballots in that county were recounted.

Get over it! the Republican apparatchik will crow. Bush is your President, fair and square. Well, he ain't mine. I don't just mean that I didn't vote for him. I mean that the majority of folks voting in the United States didn't vote for him, and it took a doubtful ruling by a dangerously prejudiced Supreme Court to put him in office.

No, he is the Great Pretender, the Imposter In Chief. The most remarkable thing about this feeling I have, is that I've been much less interested in the news and in American politics in general, since I don't really feel a vested interest in what the puppet government is doing. Is that radical enough for you? http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010226/us/media_ballot_review_8.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 AM

Stuffy Snoot

My cold is fading, but reluctantly. As I anthropomorphize the virus, I see it 'deliberately' clogging my sinuses, so I'll only get five hours of sleep (as I did last night). In this way, the cold hopes to weaken my defenses and prolong it's stay. Bad cold!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:45 AM

February 26, 2001

Sick of Sickness

I got over the stomach flu, and this weekend saw the advent of a cold! I hate it when I get a one-two like that. It was also a bit ironic, as we were having a pizza-and-cake party with Kelly to celebrate everybody being over the flu. The pizza was Jean's idea, the cake Kelly's. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:05 PM

February 21, 2001

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

You've seen the Dancing Baby, you've seen Dancing Hamsters, and any number of crazes and manias which sweep over the Internet from time to time. For the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing references to the phenomenon in the title of this article. Now I know what the talk is about.

The line in the title is one of many fractured English translations found on an old, low-resolution videogame called Zerowing. The link gives the opening sequence along with much of the wooden dialogue. This apparently so tickled some net geeks that they began making Photoshop images where street signs and such were altered to have the text "All Your Base Are Belong To Us."

Finally, all this evolved into a techno-beat video collage of these images, found here.

Update! There's a pretty good story with links and pictures at The Register

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:21 PM

Diet Levelling

Today I packed a lunch of a banana and applesauce, but I was just getting tired of this bland stuff. I went over to the company cafeteria and built myself a salad. I'm still constrained in some ways, though, since I explicitly excluded broccolli from the salad. A broccolli salad was the last thing I ate before the stomach flu hit me.

Jean was able to eat scrambled eggs for lunch today, so I think it's fair to say we are all on the mend. Real food is just around the corner!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:48 PM

February 20, 2001

Best Buffy Line

Many good lines this week, but here's my fave. Buffy's latest nemesis is a god who looks like another small-statured woman, but who can whoop Buffy's butt. So this episode she encounters a cute young woman, perky and sincere...who throws her across a room because Buffy is keeping her from searching for her boyfriend. Later that night at 'the magic shop', she is nursing her sore arm and says:

Ouch! I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting tired of superstrong little women who aren't me.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:29 PM

February 19, 2001

Sickness Wind-down

Jean spent most of yesterday with the follow-on headache that I experienced as I recovered. I think it is a side-effect of vomiting several times. That is, the electrolytic balance of one's body chemistry gets trashed, and causes a headache.

While she was down, I took Kelly to see Recess. I was surprised to see, hear rather, James Woods playing the bad guy. I know he played Hades in the Disney movie Hercules, and Recess is a Disney movie, but it is a television spin-off, so I was totally caught by surprise that Disney would spring for even one big name actor.

Admittedly I've been in a surreal state due to eating only toast and applesauce the last couple of days, but I actually enjoyed the movie. They tried to pull a Bullwinkle and put some grown-up humor into it, which worked okay. And my overall humor level was pretty juvenile at the time, so joining in with Kelly to laugh at the burp joke was fun too.

We came back home, Jean was still sick, so we turned around and went to McDonald's Playland for a couple of hours. On the drive home, I began to feel nauseous uh oh!, and slowed down for the rest of the night. No recurrence of illness, and I got away with a Poptart and applesauce before bedtime. "qbullet.smiley"

Now I'm at work, taking a break while the compiler is running, and I've had some hot grain cereal and split pea soup. I think I'm on the mend. Hopefully Jean is feeling better too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:54 PM

February 17, 2001

Full Circle

Stomach flu makes the rounds. It is the pervasive nature of the virus. I'm still feeling ratty, but have progressed beyond the vomit stage. Now I'm eating light foods -- bananas, toast, applesauce, the like. Even that seems to tax my stomach, but it would be okay without the headache. I've had that most of the day, and I don't think my stomach could handle aspirin or alleve, so I just deal with it.

Kelly has been pretty helpful, not being too five-year-old-demanding. I just put her to bed after reading her the conclusion of Moominsummer Madness. We'll see if she manages to keep abed.

Jean did the grocery shopping this morning, then went to Mentor to exercise on the treadmill. After she got back, she began to notice a certain queasiness in her stomach. By now she is laid low with a fever of 100.8 degrees. It's climbed from 100.3 when we first started measuring. She hasn't vomited yet, but I'm guessing it's only a matter of time.

As Kelly has already gone through this, she seems to be a bit more empathetic than usual. She is generally obeying my requests that she keep her voice down and entertain herself. I hope that she gets to sleep quickly, so I'll only have Jean to look after. Since I'm not fully recovered yet myself, I doubt I could keep my temper if Kelly started pushing limits.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 PM

February 16, 2001

Hot Water

Ron Hardy arrived late this evening with the replacement water heater. It's finally installed, and the hot water should be coming out in a few more minutes. I drove down to work to take a shower at the gym this morning, but that was an adventure, given the condition of my stomach.

So now everybody can have baths and showers again, the dishwasher can work on the backload, and laundry can be done! Yeehaw! Oh, and it effectively cost nothing, since I had just gotten a bonus for the year at Mentor "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:53 PM

It's a Stomach Flu

I can now say definitively that Kelly's ailment was a stomach flu. News is percolating back from her schools that other kids have had it, and "it's going around." Don't I know it. Today was my turn. I won't go into graphic detail, but the vomiting was most dramatic. It seems to be over now, though I'm playing things conservatively.

Given Kelly's behavior, I'm going to cancel my attendance at this weekend's "NOVA" meeting. Even if I'm not aiming volleys at the toilet, I can't imagine being away from home and comfort for two or more hours tomorrow night. Too bad. "NOVA" is my release.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 PM

February 15, 2001

When It Rains, It Pours

So I was leaving for work this morning, after Jean got back, and I heard a strange noise in the garage. It sounded like running water. A quick check confirmed it. Our water heater is leaking like a sieve. So we called our plumber Ron Hardy, and the earliest he can make it is 7 pm. So we are without hot water for the rest of the day. Fun, huh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:52 AM

Kelly Sick

Valentine's Day started off reasonably enough. As I mentioned, I got woken up early to receive Kelly's homemade Valentine. We did in fact have lunch together. Kelly had pizza and an icecream bar. By the time I got home yesterday evening, Kelly was throwing up.


I've got a long record of sympathetic vomit, so Jean just shooed me away and took charge. By all reports, Kelly threw up about once an hour throughout the night. It is now Thursday, and I went in to work late so that Jean could drop some stuff off at her work, and go for a walk, before I left.


I just returned from work so that Jean could go to class. Kelly seems happy enough, though we've been restricting her to stuff like chicken soup. There are no reports of similar illnesses with other kids at either Bridgeport school or Kid Connection, so I'm partial to the notion that something Kelly ate was off. Of course it could still be a virus.


I'll be going back to work after Jean returns from her class, but I plan to make it a short day, cumulative time about a half-day.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:37 AM

February 14, 2001

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, significant historically as a tribute to St. Valentine, occurring at the same time of month as a Roman celebration of young males' rite of passage, and more recently, the date of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. We have Hallmark and their ilk to thank for the commercialization of the holiday.

Last night I went to bed early, treating myself gingerly due to my recovery from a cold, and this morning I'm awoken early by the cries of Kelly, who has sprung out of bed as if it is Christmas, declaring the arrival of Valentine's Day. It turns out that she had made a card for us at school, and she wanted to give it to us both. It was a cute mouse that opened out into a heart shape.

I'm meeting Jean and Kelly both for lunch today to celebrate the holiday. If anything significant turns up, I'll report here.

The only other Valentine news I have is that I received an email 'card' from Nami, my penpal, noting the holiday. Happy Valentine's Day, Nami. Though we don't write each other as frequently any more, I will always think of you as my friend.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:37 AM

Word of the Day

Polysemous, a word which I've never heard in my life. And I got a 99% on the verbal section of the GRE a few years ago.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:58 AM

February 13, 2001

Computer Science Reading

In my never-ending quest to find interesting papers about Haskell, I recently downloaded a paper entitled From Fast Exponentiation to Square Matrices, by Chris Okasaki, of Purely Functional Data Structures fame. I started reading this last night, and all I can say is beware of technical papers which contain a sentence which begins "the reason is easy to see." I spent ninety minutes on the first two pages of this paper.

The reason I'm wading through papers is because I'm getting bored with the presentational style in my Haskell book, Haskell: The Craft of Functional Programming. I've ordered a copy of The Haskell School of Expression by Paul Hudak, reputed to be very good. But until I get it, I'll keep wading through the papers.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:28 AM

February 08, 2001

Testing Radio

Dave Winer hosts these websites out of the goodness of his heart, and to have tons of people hammer on his Manila server, shaking out the bugs in it so it is of even higher quality than if it was only tested internally. I've appreciated using the service, and I'll have to find some way to continue weblogging when and if he discontinues this free service.

And discontinue it he may. He has made noises in the past about how badly his servers are getting hammered. He's said he doesn't want to be in the business of serving web pages, so he won't take money for it now. Finally, he's hinted at a model whereby folks buy his Radio Userland software, and then edit their weblog entirely on their local system, only sending static pages to his servers, so they don't have to do any computation. Therefore, I'm now testing out the tool Userland is promoting for managing web content, Radio Userland. It's quite probable that I won't like it, but I think I'm going to have to learn it, given Dave's hinting.

I don't mind paying for the service that gives me Terebi, but I really find this tool clumsy to edit with. Dave is famed for having invented computer-based outliners, and so his editor paradigm is based on outlines. Well, guess what. When I write technical documents, I often think hierarchically. But when I write creatively, or compose an epistle, I'm much more nonlinear, and outlining just gets in the way. I'd rather just create text in the editor of my choice and paste it into the form window on the web. Well, we'll try it anyway...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:13 PM

February 07, 2001

Do a Little Jig!

Yesterday evening, Kelly and I went downstairs to watch Red Dwarf VII - Duct Soup. It was fun, but the humor is a bit subtle at times, not to mention British "qbullet.smiley", so I had to pause a few times to explain things to Kelly (who nevertheless seems to enjoy watching; there is usually at least one slapstick element per episode that she can get into wholeheartedly).

The upshot is that we got back upstairs at around 7:45pm, just fifteen minutes before she was supposed to be in bed. We still had her shower to do, her teeth, and cleaning up her toys. Since watching Red Dwarf was my idea, I didn't want to get heavy-handed on her for being late. Instead I did something I occasionally do, which probably continues to work because I only do it occasionally. I began chanting "Hup! Hoop! Hreep! Horp! March!". Kelly seems to love this, and we both have to march, arms swinging wide.

I got her into the shower, told her it would be a quick one. Washing and rinsing went quickly. Then I told her "depress the plunger please!" This switches showerhead to bath faucet. Then I shut the water off completely, and said the following, with little pauses between each:

Please open the drain...
Remove your visor...
Step out of the tub...
Do a little jig...

Kelly started doing a goofy dance without losing a beat. I just about cracked up, which was clearly what she wanted. So after I got her dry, I told her "let's go into the living room, and when I say 'do a little jig', do your dance for Mommy."

We went into the living room, Kelly standing there in the middle of the room prim and proper, hands clasped quietly in front of her. Jean looked up, and I raised my hand over Kelly's head, and said "Kelly, do a little jig!" She started bouncing around, and Jean cracked up. Kelly had to tell us to 'do a little jig', and then we got her to bed.

When I left for work this morning, it was Jean's turn to take Kelly to school, so I said goodbye to Kelly, and asked for a goodbye hug. She gave me one, then asked, "how about a goodbye jig?" So I got one this morning too .

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:38 PM

Keychain Computer Storage

It's begun! Agatetech now offers solid-state disks small enough to hang on your keychain, holdin 16, 32 or 64MB of memory, and accessible from any USB port. That's not entirely true, the machine does need drivers to read the thing, but it looks like a small disk to properly equipped computers. For now they don't have Mac drivers, but when they do, I'll probably get one. Totally cool!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:26 AM

Keychain Computer Storage

It's begun! Agatetech now offers solid-state disks small enough to hang on your keychain, holdin 16, 32 or 64MB of memory, and accessible from any USB port. That's not entirely true, the machine does need drivers to read the thing, but it looks like a small disk to properly equipped computers. For now they don't have Mac drivers, but when they do, I'll probably get one. Totally cool!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:22 AM

Steganography In The News

USA Today reports that Osama bin Laden communicates with his terrorist fellows by hiding messages in posts to sports chat rooms and pornographic images found on the internet. This is a timely example of steganography, which I discussed here in the past. Declan McCullagh has a nice little article on the current flap over at Wired News. http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2001-02-05-binladen.htm

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:54 AM

February 06, 2001

Movie Note

I went to "NOVA" Saturday, and afterwards, Alan, John and I went to see O Brother, Where Art Thou?. As with most Coen brothers movies, it was creative, took a few risks, aped a few other movies and stories (based on the Oddysey, after all), and was generally fun. It wasn't nearly as weird as Raising Arizona, Fargo or The Big Lebowski, but definitely indulged in the occasional surreal segment.

George Clooney was surprisingly good as Ulysses Everett McGill, a convict leading a pair of fellow losers on a run through depression-era Mississippi. He alternates between a normal conversational tone and a bouncy banter reminiscent of Clark Gable astride the shoulders of Cary Grant. I've decided that this was a deliberate dichotomy. When talking normally, he's usually being himself, talking to no audience or the audience who can't be fooled. When bantering, he's using his gift of gab to full effect.

Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro are both excellent partners in crime, and the movie is enhanced by the appearances of John Goodman and Holly Hunter (whose merest smile still makes my heart race).

Maybe the biggest star of this movie, however, is the music. T-Bone Burnett is credited with the music, though maybe that should be the musical choices, since the movie is salted with varied numbers from religious favorites to bluegrass and blues. Being a lover of wide varieties of music myself, I was enthralled.

Some reviewers are panning this movie, or damning it with faint praise, and I suppose I can see their point. It isn't the best movie the Coen brothers have done by most measures. But still, most any Coen brothers movie is better than any ten movies out at the time of it's release. When we were leaving the theater, we heard some Gen-Y kids coming out of the same show talking. One said, "well, I'm allowed to choose one bad movie, aren't I?" Alan and John agreed that we'd seen a very different movie from those kids.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:22 PM

February 02, 2001

Headgear

As of this morning, I'm instituting a new rule. I may not enter or leave the car without wearing headgear. Why? I wear my hair extremely short (not that there's a whole lot of it on top anymore anyway), leaving little padding. When I got out of the car this morning at Bridgeport, dropping Kelly off, I bonked the top of my head on the doorframe. It stung, but I quickly dismissed it and moved on.

Later that morning, at work and pondering a difficult problem, I ran my hand over my head, as is my wont. This time I felt a sticky spot. I asked a colleague, and sure enough, there was blood up there. Nothing serious, but it could have been prevented by the flimsiest of baseball caps. So I'm putting one on the driver's seat this evening, and whenever I get in the car, I'll put it on first. On leaving, I'll take it off and put it on the car seat before locking the door.

If it's cold, I'll keep wearing it, but there's the usual absent-minded danger that I'll forget to bring it back to the car. Hmm, two hats? Sort of like having reading glasses and working glasses (neither of which I have yet, thank goodness). Won't I seem the complete twit? "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:11 PM

Jean Again

Jean's been taking anthropology courses at the local community college, and for fun has been reading a beginner's book on microbiology. So her head is full of terminology and it affects her analogy construction process.

Last night she informed me that when she suffered migraines regularly her chemistry was so screwed up that she would often give in to bouts of self-loathing. As she was watching John Edward last night, the old thought floated into her head "I hate myself." Only this time it was followed immediately by the thought "I don't have to think like that anymore!"

Jean told me, ala microbiology, "It's like I've been innoculated. Now whenever I have the old habitual thought, it'll get shot down with the don't-have-to-think-like-that immune response." "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:09 AM

Kelly's Field Trip

Trying to extract useful information from a five-year old about her day is generally futile, so this is a very short note to observe that Kelly had a field trip yesterday. She successfully accompanied her class in a bus to a Max station, rode the light rail to the airport, had the grand tour, then reversed the trip to return to Bridgeport school, where I picked her up. She seems none the worse for wear, but the most we could get out of her in the way of details is that she enjoyed the trip on the Max light rail most. Oh, and there were no animals on the train "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:21 AM

February 01, 2001

Jean Mots

Lately Jean has just been dropping the curiously funny phrase every day. Before sharing this one, I'll set the stage.

For as long as I've known Jean, she's had migraines. Bad ones. Ones that send her into a darkened room to lie quietly for hours. These migraines take their toll, and leave little energy for everyday life. Since she could get two or three a week during a bad week, that meant she was always playing catch-up.

Over the years, medications for migraines have improved, certainly becoming less toxic, making the trade-offs more palateable. But none of the meds sufficed to truly control Jean's migraines. But this last year has been different. After working with her doctor to gradually try out an array of new drugs, some of which gave her nightmares so severe and disturbing that she had to get off them, she now has meds that are very effective.

She can go weeks without having a single migraine (the record was eleven weeks). She still is prey to ordinary pedestrian headaches, but after years of migraines, those are merely tiring, not oppressive. So now her body has resources to fight all the other things, allergies, colds and flus, that she normally had no energy left to fight. Result: happy Jean.

She told me last night she is waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I'll be sitting there, thinking about something, and the sky will open up, as if the sun is coming out of the clouds. Only it isn't cloudy. Maybe I'm not even outdoors at the time." So the pessimistic part of her says, "it's probably a stroke." But she knows that it is probably just that she has resources and energy she never had before.

Now to the bon mot of the week. She said these sudden onslaughts of happiness are unpredictable, and so far not followed by corresponding depressions, so no developing bi-polar disorder. Instead, she says, "It's like I've been hit with the Rubber Chicken of Happiness." "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:38 AM