January 16, 2003

Mickey Conquers the Commons

Seldom have I been so disappointed in a Supreme Court ruling as this. I'm trying really hard not to resort to scatological terms to describe the thinking of the seven justices who voted to uphold what amounts to perpetual copyright. Would that the minority opinion, which seems more common sense, had held sway:

Justice Breyer also wrote a dissenting opinion. He argued that the CTEA 20-year extension does not make the copyright term limited, as is required by the Copyright Clause, but instead “virtually perpetual.” Further, Breyer argued that the CTEA's primary effect is not to promote science, but to inhibit it. Conceding that the Copyright Clause grants broad legislative power, Breyer nonetheless concluded that the CTEA falls outside that grant, thereby making it unconstitutional.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

January 15, 2003

QOTD

Even the video game stories hailed as brilliant come across as bad science fiction from the 1950s or dreadful teenage love poetry (which covers anything from Square).

Poster on stevenberlinjohnson.com

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:05 PM

Toys, Toys, Toys, In the Attic!

I think I might be buying one of these when they come out, and giving my GBA to Kelly.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:58 PM

Note to Myself

As I'm currently snowed under about five great big books (okay three are huge, one's medium and one is thin but dense), I decided to leave a note here for later reference. I was reading William Gibson's weblog and he went on an absolute tear about the genius of Iain Sinclair, mentioning Landor's Tower (fiction) and Lud Heat (prose and verse). The library has Landor's Tower, a non-fiction book called Rodinsky's Room, and White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, another novel. I'm probably gonna sample Landor's Tower, and then maybe if I like it I'll buy a copy of London Orbital, supposedly a travelogue of London, but filtered through this strange poet's eye.

After all, when one of the authors you've most enjoyed raves about another author, what else are you supposed to do?

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:05 PM

January 14, 2003

QOTD

As to drugs facilitating creativity, I think I’ve seen a lot of paintings, most often stacked along the walls of thrift shops, that argue against this. (Amphetamines, however, can definitely facilitate macramé.)

William Gibson

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:28 PM

January 12, 2003

Geek Lust

I'm in geek lust again. The Pentel Twist-Erase III 0.7mm Automatic Pencil is the best mechanical pencil I've ever used. Jean's been buying those disposable plastic mechanical pencils at the grocery store, and we've got dozens laying around the house. I started buying leads and feeding them into the front (breech-loading) to prolong their life, but there was no replacement eraser for them. So I went to Staples and bought a couple of brands of mechanical pencils which do have eraser refills as well as lead refills. They are concidentally both Pentel brand, but the Twist-Erase is the hands down winner! Geek love!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:44 PM

Mafia

I'm not enough of a people person to want to rustle up a crowd and play this myself, but it seems that Mafia is one heck of a fun parlor game. Jean disagrees with me. "So what. You sit around with your eyes closed."

Of course the game is a little more complex than that, and the real boost comes from all the human interaction, some insightful people, some not so bright, all trying to figure out who's who.

What came out of sharing this with Jean was immensely valuable, though. I'd just spent the better part of the day trying to tutor Jean on logarithms for her math course, and the going was slow. But now I find that she does not learn by hearing. "Everything you just read me about that game, it boils down to people sitting in chairs with their eyes closed."

So now I have to do some hard thinking on ways to be a better tutor, since I'm a very verbal person. What to do, what to do?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 PM

January 10, 2003

All Consuming

If you are an avid reader (as am I), you should check out All Consuming. It's an aggregator site for bookreaders. Erik checks Weblogs.com (a website which notifies clients whenever a weblog on it's list is updated) every hour, then scrapes the indicated weblogs for mentions of books. As I understand it, he looks for URLs pointing to Amazon as an easy way to recognize a book reference (which makes sense, since I understand he's an Amazon employee). Once he's gotten all that data, he posts a list of the most frequently mentioned books. It's an automated community book circle!

You can also maintain lists of the books you read on his website. Where this really comes into play is that he generates javascript you can link to which places each book on your website with a link back to his site, covering other people's comments on the same books. It's very cool! His Javascript has a slight bug, so for now I'm inlining his code so I can fix the bug, but you can find the books I'm currently reading in the left sidebar.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 AM

January 08, 2003

Sunday Outing

Kelly and I saw The Wild Thornberrys Movie on Sunday. She liked it a lot, and I didn't fall asleep, so two thumbs up!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:02 AM

January 07, 2003

Afters

Saturday was a NOVA weekend, and there were no new movies to see, so we fell back on the "let's go out for a bit of nosh" alternative. Usually we've been going to the Macmenamins restaurant, John Barleycorn. Food a little bit pricey but tasty and varied, location good for me since it's ten minutes away from home. You may recall that I took Jean and Kelly there for the great Armagnac experiment, and it got good marks from them.

This time, however, a larger group of people than my little clique was involved, and they voted for Applebee's. I was hesitant, and Dan started to give me a hard time about it. This isn't uncommon, as it seems Dan and I have gotten into the habit of good-natured ribbing bordering on the argumentative. I've been pondering this, and I think it's because I've got a whitish beard and thinning hair on top, so I remind Dan of his video partner, Terry. He and Terry have a tempestuous relationship, which has more than once broken out into publicly raised voices. So I hope I'm not headed in that direction!

Anyways... Dan was giving me a hard time, and I was hedging, but went with the herd. The food was okay, but uninspired. The talk was fun as usual. Sunday I told Jean where we went, and the whole story of my hesitation and the ribbing I took. Jean, it turns out, has eaten at Applebee's with work colleagues, so she knows it as well as Barleycorn.

"Why would they want to go to Applebee's? It's a chain. Okay, John Barleycorn is part of the Macmenamin chain, but that's local, so it has some flavor. At John Barleycorn, the food was expensive, but there were a lot of good choices, and the atmosphere was neat. At Applebee's, you get fried chicken strips. It's like an expensive Denny's."

I rest my case.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)

January 02, 2003

Longterm Reading

One of the books I've perused from the library in the recent past was The Great Terror, by Robert Conquest. It's a great book, chock full of detail, and in the 'Reassessment' edition, corrected with lots of new knowledge coming out of the former Soviet vaults. Unfortunately it's also a hefty book, not the sort that you can really read from the library. I told my wife that I was fascinated yet disappointed in it. It's one flaw (from the perspective of one uneducated in the details of Soviet history) is that it dives right into the infighting and casually refers to all the players as if you already know who they all are. As I told Jean, I need a book that leads up to this book, filling in all the details of what came before.

So what does Jean get me for Christmas? Yep. I'm really happy, and looking forward to reading it over a period of several weeks, but first I gotta find that other book, the one that sets the stage. Any recommendations? Maybe Ten Days That Shook the World? Since Conquest is clearly anti-Communist, Reed's pro-Bolshevik book should provide an interesting counterbalance...

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:12 PM

Dogme 95

Jean rented Italian for Beginners over our holiday break. This is, to the best of my knowledge, my first exposure to a film made under the strictures of the Dogme 95 'vow of chastity'. Filmed with a digital video camera, the story is that of normal human relations, without bombs or fisticuffs (in contrast to another movie I saw in the theatre over my holiday break, The Gangs of New York). The only music in the film is music occurring in the given environment. There is no musical score. This is reminiscent of Touch of Evil, Orson Welles' film of corruption in a Mexican-American border town.

To be clear, I enjoy the better Hollywood blockbusters, and the occasional blockbuster which is not truly of Hollywood, such as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which I saw last Thursday with several of my friends. And I had some initial misgivings when the film started and it became clear that it was shot in video. But as the story unfolded, I became involved in the characters' travails, and by the end, both Jean and I were contributing excited comments about what was happening. The final scene is notable as much for what it doesn't spell out regarding the characters' fates as for what it does.

If you can handle slow movies with lots of dialogue, and are not put off by handheld video imagery, try this movie. Jean and I intend to seek out some of the other Dogme 95 films, at least the ones which have won awards and are therefore easily available.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:31 AM

They Took My Thumbs, Charlie!

Never let your daughter talk you into playing 'twitch' fighting games for hours to level up your character. The left joystick controls character movement during battle, which is real-time, in Kingdom Hearts. I've got the sorest thumb today. Jean was complaining about the same thing...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:11 AM

January 01, 2003

Kingdom Hearts, First Report

One of the presents from Santa was to Kelly and me. Kingdom Hearts is a joint venture between Squaresoft, one of my fave game companies, and Disney. It mixes characters from the various Final Fantasy role-playing games with characters from the Disney stable, in an adventure game with a mix of story and action. Kelly was asking for it frequently before Christmas, though by the time Christmas rolled around, the ad campaign for it was over, and Kelly had forgotten all about it.

Monday we finally got through the backlog of toys and Kelly decided that she wanted to play the game. We got through the first part, arrived at Destiny Island, and collected all the items we needed for our raft. Then we were 'promoted' to the next sequence. The first time through I was pigpiled by a bunch of evil little shadow creatures, and I couldn't hit them for the life of me. My character got killed. Kelly told me to try again. This time I decided not to try fighting the shadow things, and instead ran across the island looking for help. I found Riku and got to the next level, a boss monster that looked like a big shadow demon. I fought hard, but got snuffed again.

At this point, Kelly took over, starting on Destiny Island again. She went into her 'hop, jump and twist' mode, where she just endlessly runs around, jumps up on stuff, whacks things with her sword, and generally pushes every button in sight. I went back and checked the play clock, and she did this for seven hours. Needless to say, I took a nap during that time.

So I went on the web and did some research, and discovered that the boss monster is called Darkside (no, not Darkseid), and most hints suggest that you need to spar with Tidus, Wakka and Selphie on Destiny Island to build levels (one guy said Level 7). So we spent today sparring, bringing in Jean as our ringer for several matches (she's the Bust-a-Groove champ around here, so her reflexes top all others in the household). It's now around 3:30, and we are at Level 7 at last. We saved, and quit, 'cause I insisted to Kelly that my hands were too sore to do any more fighting (and Kelly never does the fighting parts of these games).

So at this rate, assuming we don't lose interest first, or get ticked off by some unfair (*cough* Final Fantasy X *cough*) segment of the game, we'll finish the game around the time Kelly becomes a teenager .

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:02 PM

December 31, 2002

New Gallery

Okay, after a long hiatus, there's a new banner atop this log, linking to a new gallery, holiday themed, of course. I took off all the days between Christmas and New Year (four work days), and I've been rationing my Internet time. Okay, I'm still fiddling with Mac OS X programming, and playing Diablo II (and Fallout 2), but I'm not cruising the usual sites, and I haven't felt interested in posting.

Maybe over the next few days I'll try to catch up. If not, sue me.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:28 PM

December 23, 2002

Flaming Lips

I've been listening to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots lately. Since I don't listen to pop radio, and I don't watch MTV, it's easy to fool myself into thinking I've discovered something counterculture, but that don't make it so. I'd read about the Flaming Lips on various weblogs, and gotten the impression that they were a group known to a bunch of young in-crowd web design types, and decided to give them a try.

Now I don't really watch commercials either, since I've got ReplayTV, but the other night I was 'watching' a show while working a griddler puzzle. When I work puzzles or munge about with my laptop, I sometimes miss that the commercials have started and one or two get past me before I skip the rest. And so it was that night. I'm hearing in the background various babble including the umistakable voice of Penn Gillette, saying "it's 37! 37, okay?"

So I looked up, and there was a scene out of Beetlejuice (the afterlife waiting room, to be specific). A bunch of guys in bunny suits are surrounded by all sort sof oddballs, including Penn. Then a door opens, and a guy calls out, "Flaming Lips, you're up!" The bunnies get up and leave the room, and the next thing I see is them performing a song from the album I recently bought. Okay, I was fooled. They're mass-market, commercials and everything. Ya got me.

But how's the album? Pretty good, overall. The opening song, "Flight Test", is a very good example of putting your best foot forward, and gets the album off to an enchanting start. I'm kinda disappointed in the title song, or anyway, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt. 1. Pt. 2 is no-longer-experimental mix-up electronic noodling and sampling, and I like it quite a lot, thanks.

No blow-by-blow on this album. It's pretty homogeneous, so if you like one song, you'll most likely enjoy the others. I'm keeping it in my rotation for the time being. But I'm already itching for something new.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:26 AM

Household Hints

Don't put corn husks (or cornsilk) down the garbage disposal.

Yeah, I know, but I'm a guy! I expect a food grinder to grind food, by gum! Jean's been after me for putting cantaloupe rinds, grape stems and everything else down there, and now, the corn husks were the 'straw' that broke the disposal's back. It was jammed up good. But if eggshells are okay, bits of bread, oatmeal, and so on, where do I draw the line? When I do the laundry, everything goes into the same load, and the same temperature, dammit! If the clothes can't handle it, then buy better clothes!

So before suggesting we buy a 40hp garbage disposal with carbide blades, I called the 800 number labelled on the side. This was a voice menu which offered helpfully:

"If you'd like tips on how to fix your disposal, press 1. If you'd like the number of a local authorized repair service, press 2. If -- "

2

So I got through to a guy and described the problem. "Can you send a guy over?"

"Did you try the wrench?" he asked.

"There's a wrench?"

"Yep, it should have come with your disposal. It's a 3/8 " alan wrench. Insert it into the base and twist it around. Should clear things up. If not, call me back."

So I hunted around in the kitchen drawers, looking for a hefty alan wrench. Sure enough, I found one, labelled 'disposal wrench' in the metal, no less. A couple of twists, and it's working again! W00t! Now I can put corn husks in again! Just kidding, Jean.

But seriously, can I have a list?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:47 AM

Sunday Report

Sunday was much less crowded than Saturday. I got up and did my chores, decided to save strength training for Monday, so did just the Bikeler. After a shower and a brief lunch, I got into dishes and laundry. One of the nice things about modern convenience appliances is that for a large part of the time, you aren't really doing anything. So once the loads were running, I fired up Diablo II and applied some of the knowledge I'd gleaned by reading the first ten pages of the manual, finally.

Man, is that game a timesink! I'd get up occasionally to check the laundry, unload the dishwasher, etc., but in toto, I think I wasted three hours this time. I gotta get a new computer in the den, so I can move this game over there and spare Jean, who patiently waited while I played.

In the evening, before preparing for dinner, I took Kelly for a walk to a neighborhood where I knew a lot of the homeowners had gone nuts with the Christmas lights. It was misting lightly, and wasn't cold at all, so it was a very nice walk, about a half hour in all. Then it was time for a Snapper fish dinner, with sweet potatoes (no, not fries).

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:34 AM

Saturday Report

Kelly is a real schemer. We went grocery shopping and her school is having a raffle in front of the store. For the second week in a row, she got Jean to give her a dollar so that she could buy a ticket. Great, support the school, all that, I thinks. We went about our shopping business, and as we left, Kelly got involved talking to somebody, so I grabbed a dollar and bought a raffle ticket too. Jean said that the raffle person told her that they weren't selling many, so I was thinking I'd do my part, and maybe have better odds as well. On the way to the car, Kelly seemed a little miffed, and Jean explained. It seems Kelly planned on winning a specific prize, the Xbox. Then since she owned it, she'd make Daddy ask permission to use it!

Geez, what gratitude! I let her use the PS2 pretty much any time it's practical (Jean's not using the downstairs tv, it's before Kelly's bedtime, etc.). Now I'm a competitor for 'her' prize. Sorry kiddo, maybe next week I'll bring a twenty! Or maybe I'll just give her a dollar or two myself. We'll see...

So now I know what Armagnac tastes like. Trouble is, it's been so long since I've tasted any kind of brandy, that I couldn't tell you if this is rougher than cognac or what. Jean, Kelly and I made the trip to John Barleycorn, which is a McMenamins restaurant ten minutes from where we live. This is incidentally one of the post-NOVA hangouts when no movie is handy.

We went for lunch on Saturday, Jean playing designated driver since I knew I wanted to try the Armagnac. I'd heard one of those 'color' stories on NPR about the history of Armagnac, and how it is fading away in the face of more populist liquors, so when I saw it on the menu at Barleycorn's one post-NOVA night, I decided I had to try it (despite the possibility that the brand served by Barleycorn's might be one of the 'tweaked' versions with more sugar that desperate producers have been experimenting with to try to bring back business, and incidentally hastening the demise of genuine Armagnac).

Result: it was smooth and quite pleasant tasting. I'll have to try the cognac some other time to see if there is a noticable difference. Food-wise, Jean had a salad, Kelly had a honkin' cheeseburger, and ate it all, and I had the fish tacos. Yum! We shared a hummus plate as well.

Saturday evening was the NOVA Christmas party, and food was brought by all. I pigged out, and got a shake and sweet potato fries at Burgerville on the way to Tom's after the meeting, so my weight spiked a good five pounds. Going down now, thanks.

There was a bit of Christmas themed anime, but otherwise it was a standard meeting. I'd already handed out my presents to select friends at the previous meeting since I was unsure Alan was going to be in town this weekend. So I got to receive without giving this time. Alan got me a book on taking better family portraits. I'm gonna have to cram between now and Christmas morning to see if there are any good ideas for good spontaneous photos. Tom got me a Code Monkey T-Shirt from Think Geek, and I'm wearing it now! Yahoo! Finally, John Jackson got me an Indian epic, since he knew I was curious about Indian cinema. My memory is so shoddy I can't remember if I got him a present or not. I'll just have to double up and get him a treat post-holidays. King Hu's A Touch of Zen is out on DVD, maybe he'd like that? I'm getting it for myself, so maybe I'll just buy two copies.

We all piled into Tom's apartment to view the Canadian DVD of Brotherhood of the Wolf, which we'd seen in the theatre, but had fun watching again. While there, I got to sample Tom's gift to Alan, a bottle of Oregon made Sake. It was served in tiny glasses, so since I had a single one, you know I'm not a souse! Finally it was time to go home, and I drove safely, rest assured.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:21 AM

December 20, 2002

Saint Lucia in a Coal Mine

The words I was fumbling for regarding the lighting at the Church last Sunday are reciprocity failure. In this case, it would be moot, as I was hand holding the camera and had live moving subjects, so the fact that I was frequently shooting at 1/8 second means there'll be much blur, but there could be reciprocity failure too. Just wanted to note that down since I'm trying to get all this SLR tech lingo straight in my head.

By the by, the film is still sitting on the shelf at home. Development could take another week, then I have to get my butt in gear and scan any decent results. So don't hold your breath.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:27 AM

December 19, 2002

RSS Errors

Gee, my RSS hack is supposed to catch <'s and properly encode them as &lt;. However, my RSS version of the previous post drops the <'s and >'s from the post, making for nonsensical template code (to a C++ programmer, anyway). Guess I'll just have to get more 'sophisticated' if I want to write about C++...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:51 AM

Geek Alert

Working with older compilers can be such fun. Cygnus 2.90 C++ had only partially implemented member template functions, so attempting to call them thusly:


Foo foo;


foo.bar < int > ();

caused a compiler error: "parse error before `>'".

At the same time, there is a feature in ISO Standard C++, the '.template' mechanism, meant to be used inside function templates when an object depends on a template parameter. Doing this:


foo.template bar < int > ();

causes the program to compile, and work as expected, even though the '.template' mechanism shouldn't apply to this case. One 'bug' fixes another.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:38 AM

December 18, 2002

He Has No Nose

Though not as combative as Karl Popper, or as condescending as Wittgenstein, I suppose I'm no angel. Today's QOTD reminded me of a recent meeting of NOVA. A certain unnamed individual was complaining that the club web pages didn't give directions to the meeting. "Yes they do," I muttered. Others piped up with this info.

"Well, they're not linked to from the News page," was his next complaint. "Yes they are," I said, sotto voce. Again a chorus of folks volunteered that it was plainly there.

"Anyway, there are no directions on which bus to take to get to the meeting..."

Exasperated, I asked myself "from where?" Folks pointed out that he could go to the Trimet website and get detailed route info including schedules, by punching in starting and destination addresses. He grumbled something about how that should all be on the club pages.

At this point, I simply lost patience. Without raising my voice, I said, "I can't help you if you're stupid." I wish I'd had the Wittgenstein quote handy at the time. Rudeness raised to an elegant level...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:59 PM

QOTD

Although Carnap always deferred to Wittgenstein, his persistent, politely phrased and thoughtful questions about how Wittgenstein reached conclusion Z from assumptions X and Y would be dismissed as the preoccupations of a pedant. "If he doesn't smell it, I can't help him. He just has no nose."

Wittgenstein's Poker

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:20 AM

December 17, 2002

One Beat

Okay, One Beat isn't as big a disappointment as I'd feared. I figured out what specifically was bugging me about it. The first, eponymous song, is led by one of the members (they all do vocals, so I'm not sure who) in an uncanny female impression of Geddy Lee (Rush's lead singer). I hate Geddy Lee. Don't worry, I'll get over it.

So the album itself is okay, not "an album so colossal that all prefixes to the label 'rock band' must be immediately discarded" as the linked review would have it, but okay in an idiosyncratic way. If I want a killer female rock album, I'll listen to Patti Smith (I know, dating myself here) or vintage Throwing Muses. Sleator-Kinney is in fact a decent little cult band. Play five times, and store in desk.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:59 PM

Kelly The Philosopher

I've been reading Wittgenstein's Poker, by David Edmonds and John Eidinow, in dribs and drabs for weeks now. I got it from the library, and it is exactly the sort of book that stretches the limits of renewals, at least with my current lifestyle. When Jean and I were first together, no kid, I could work my way through anywhere from fifty to one hundred fifty books a year (I kept count). But my entertainment habits have changed (more television, more computer time, more game console, more parenting), and I doubt I read ten or twenty books a year (I note them, but don't count anymore).

So anyway, I was talking about Poker with Jean last night, doing that annoying thing I do where I read quotes out of the book, and she makes meaningful "mm-hmm"s. I want to dig out one quote by Wittgenstein where he insults another philosopher/mathematician, Carnap, and post it here, as it is illustrative of what a jerk he was. As it turns out, Karl Popper, the other central figure in the book, was also an abusive personality.

Kelly got in on the conversation, wanting to know why these guys were such meanies. I tried to explain that while it was not an excuse, these guys were geniuses in their field, which led many to tolerate their eccentricities and rudeness. I was filling the bathtub for Kelly's bath by this time, and she asked me to stay with her. "Okay, but I'm gonna read my book while I sit here."

"Can you read it out loud?"

"What, my Wittgenstein book? I don't think you'll find it interesting. It's a lot of talk about these two guys, where they were from, why they differed, and so on. Do you really want me to read it?"

Kelly said yes, and I proceeded to read aloud from a passage describing Karl Popper's aggressive behavior toward students, colleagues and random members of the audience during any given lecture. "Argue, argue, argue" seems to be the key phrase. Even in expressing condolences to Margaret Thatcher that she had lost her election, he included the statement that some of her policies were wrong.

Then came a passage describing how kind he could be, how he would unstintingly write recommendations for his graduate students, help them find jobs. How he tried to help friends mend their rocky marriages. A long list of examples of areas of his life where he was quite generous -- so long as it did not touch on philosophy.

Kelly pitched in at this moment: "now they're talking about a different Popper, even though it's the same man. He can behave two different ways, like he has two lives."

I was surprised and pleased. "Yes, Kelly, that's exactly it. You really were paying attention, weren't you?" I hope this teaches me (or begins to teach me) not to underestimate what goes on in that mind of hers. Next time she asks me to read one of my books to her, I'll oblige, though I won't expect her to be interested or pay attention every time!

By the way, we wrapped up the evening reading two chapters from Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:51 AM

December 16, 2002

Quest for Leisure

Jean's on break from classes, so she gave me a 'Christmas gift' this weekend by picking up some of the household chores I'd been doing to give her more study time. Result: I logged about two hours playing Diablo II on Sunday morning. It's pretty fun, but I have got to get out of the habit of playing games for several hours before consulting the manual.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 AM

Spirograph Nebula

I just like the name, but the picture is cool too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:43 AM

Christmas Strife

I really haven't had much to report of late. Mostly the daily routine, work at the office, work at home, you know the drill. So I was expecting the dry spell to continue over the weekend when Jean mentioned that Kelly was going to be participating in the Christmas show at her Sunday School. "Cool," I thought, "I'll use up the rest of that slide film and shoot a roll of negatives."

So we all piled into the car and headed out. On arriving I discovered that the church was going to be too dark for the ISO 100 slide film I had left in my camera, so I wandered outside and took a few random shots to use it up. Inside I loaded up a roll of ISO 400 negative film, but the metering system still had me shooting 1/8 second at maximum aperture, so I doubt they're going to turn out.

Kelly looked darling in her St. Lucia costume, holding a crystal plate with crescent rolls as symbolic bread. The drill was that each kid represented a country and their traditions in re Christmas. In between these little presentations, all the kids would stand together and sing a Christmas favorite.

It was during one of these that Kelly disappointed me, quite a lot. There was a little boy next to her who wanted to point the (currently inactive) microphone down towards him. Kelly pushed his hand away and pointed the mike back up, towards her. He reached over again, and she swatted his hand. It became a push-me pull-you match that, while it never erupted into actual violence, looked very bad for Kelly. Jean and I were calling her name quietly and gesturing at her to cut it out, but she made eye contact with us and made it clear that she didn't care, she was going to control the situation. Some of the teachers were trying to get her to cool it too.

In all, it didn't ruin the event. I think most people thought is was just one of those kid things, and some may have chuckled. But I'm very disappointed. Jean had apparently seen some of this during rehearsals and warned Kelly to avoid just this sort of behavior, so it's not as if Kelly was engaging in some impulsive act, with no forethought. Sad day. Jean and I must talk about how to handle this. Too bad.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 AM

December 09, 2002

Weekend Update

Saturday was the usual melange of activities. I dragged Kelly with me on grocery chores, including a trip to Costco. Since she was helpful, I treated her to a Berry Smoothy at the Costco food kiosk. When we got home, we had a quick lunch, then raced off to see Santa at Wizer's. This guy is a very good Santa, and is there every year. He brings his own genuine white beard, and I suppose he doses up on eggnog for those authentic rosy cheeks. I tried taking a few pictures to use up my Photography Class slide film, but it's ISO 100, and the lighting was a bit dim for that, especially to try for candid shots. So I'm not hoping for much.

After we got back, I played math tutor to Jean, reviewing her homework with her. She's getting quite good.

This was a NOVA weekend. Tom and I went out and grabbed something to eat during the meeting, meaning I missed the first half of Cheeky Angel. Fortunately, Dan, the purveyor of this current favorite, had that episode loaded up on his fancy multimedia laptop, and let me watch it separately during a different part of the meeting. Afterwards, we skipped movies and went to McMenamin's for something to eat. I was surprised to see that they carried Armagnac, which I'd recently heard touted on NPR as the brandy the Three Musketeers would drink. I talked to Jean on Sunday, and she's going to be my designated driver so I can try a glass

Sunday I worked out, did my household chores (while talking to my Dad on the phone simultaneously), had lunch, then dragged Kelly down to work to walk and run around campus for some exercise. We went to Fry's to try to buy her a Worm Light for her Gameboy Color, but they only had a new version for the Gameboy Advance, which had a tab that would prevent using it with the GBC. We stopped at Fred Meyer on the way home to check their game section, and same problem. I may have to order one from Amazon.

Anyway, we went from there to the Coldstone Creamery, a new ice cream store in the area. Turns out it's one of those places where they mix stuff in while you watch, chopping it up and folding it into the ice cream. I just wanted a simple child's scoop as a treat for Kelly, but we got roped in for the full production. I had a root beer while Kelly worked her way through the agglomeration.

Then we went home, and started working on making dinner. Dover sole, a cornish game hen for Kelly, acorn squash and corn on the cob. Yum! Kelly's appetite didn't seem spoiled at all. Oh, yeah, the Christmas tree is up already, so we got to eat by tree-light.

Kelly was digging around downstairs and found my copy of Okage, and wanted to play it. I reminded her that we quit it because she had gotten bored with it, but she's made up her mind. The next time I'll have time to play it with her will be Tuesday, so I'll try to give a report sometime this week.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:39 AM

December 08, 2002

Mmmm, Tomato Sauce!

Well, Pascale was talking about the sauce, so all I have to feel bad about is that I ain't got any! Wonder how well it'd keep shipped FedEx?

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:00 PM

December 06, 2002

Snow Lovers, Pshaw!

Pascale marvels at the presence of snow in D.C.:

We left after D- finished, and I slogged home with wet and frozen feet (because of the snow, y'know?), bought some groceries, and have spent the early evening cooking up a vast vat of tomato sauce (with garlic and onions and veggie crumbles) suitable for sticking to ribs on long, cold, snowy!!!! oh my god, SNOWY!!! nights. Darn tasty. Don't you wish you had some?

To which I replied:

Tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and veggie crumbles? Yes, that sounds good!

Or, were you talking about the snow? If so, the answer's Hell No! I spent several years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as my Dad's draught horse, clearing the sidewalks and driveways every morning and evening (though in later years he had mercy on me and hired a neighbor to plow our lot). Walking across the yard and onto the roof of the garage (yes, the drifts got that high). Fifty-below wind-chill at night. 'Snorkel' jackets, with a hood opening like a periscope, so you had to turn your whole body to look both ways before crossing the street... You get the idea.

The winter weather in Lower Michigan and Ohio weren't much more pleasant. So I've had my fill of snow.

Oh, I spent the first part of my childhood in Washington, D.C. (I was born there). And I *remember* the city getting hit with a blizzard, covered in a whole *two inches* of snow. Immobilized, even! As a kid, I actually enjoyed it.

But then, as a kid, I set a record for 1,000 consecutive pogo stick jumps (some whipping back and forth 30 or 40 degrees from vertical, but always in control, yeah) in 90 degree, 90% humidity weather the following summer, so you have to weigh my sanity at that age (head felt like a balloon afterwards).

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:42 AM

December 04, 2002

I Got the Music In Me

I finished up my family Christmas shopping by letting my fingers do the walking (and my mouse ). A package from Amazon is 'virtually' winging it's way toward me. As a Christmas treat to myself, which I'll open early, I did indeed buy a copy of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips.

Now all I have to do is pick out something for my Da, and I'll be done for the year.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:11 PM

December 03, 2002

Zoo Train

While it was uncomfortably cool Sunday night, we did brave the elements to make it to the Zoolights Festival. It's a measure of how much of a stick in the mud I am, that in the fourteen or fifteen years I've been in Oregeon, I've never gone to this. And now that I have, I'm glad I did. We're not talking stellar displays of lights, Fantasia fireworks shows or starlight parades, just simple animal silhouette Christmas-style lights, some of them moving in primitive stop-motion across the grounds.

When we got there, we made a beeline for the train, so we could do the loop before it got too cold. Kelly was oohing and ahing at all the light displays, naming animals and imitating their calls, much to the annoyance of fellow passengers, I'm sure. But she mostly kept it in check, so I did nothing to kill her enthusiasm. She had some impulse control problems when it came to 'staying with the group', which in a dark zoo was a bit frightening.

After the train ride, we walked around the zoo grounds, ending at the Africafe so Kelly could have something to eat. A measure of her growing sophistication is that she now 'gets' puns like Africafe. I'm tickled, anyway.

Kelly was not ready to leave at 8pm, despite our assurances that the zoo was in fact closing at 8. I said we had to leave or we'd end up trapped in the zoo at night, when they turn all the animals loose to run wild around the zoo. She didn't buy that.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:53 PM

I'm Not Anxious, Really

By the way, the visit to the doctor resulted in an extension of the prescription. He seemed mildly surprised that the short treatment (ten days) hadn't killed off the nervous tic, but continued to be confident of his diagnosis. So I'm gonna continue taking Lorazepam (an anti-anxiety drug, among other things) for a month! I've read that there are anecdotal indications of withdrawal problems when discontinuing Lorazepam (mostly discomfort), so I'll talk to him before they run out to see what to watch out for.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:28 PM

Thanks Brenda!

My sister Brenda pulled my chestnuts out of the fire, emailing me the number of my Dad's new place in Florida. According to her, he "waited around all day" for me to call on Thanksgiving. Oops. Sorry about that Dad. Look for a call on Sunday. You can stand me up if it makes you feel better.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:19 PM

Music For Programmers

I put on one of my 'older' albums over lunch: Drawn From Life by Brian Eno. No Tom, he doesn't sing on this one (though Laurie Anderson does some of her vocal performance art -- if I wasn't already married, I think I'd want to marry her). This album, though recent (2001) is from his ambient music period. Music as wallpaper. Right up there with Music For Airports. When in a coding trance, I really love this sort of stuff. I was listening to Sigur Ros (Agaetis Byrjun) before that.

Speaking of Sigur Ros, I was at Fred Meyer picking up a new prescription today, and almost, almost picked up their new one, ( ). I really, really want it, but I decided to wait and buy a few more albums by bands I don't yet have before doing a repeat. Sleater Kinney is next up in my play rotation, but I'm thinking it was a failed experiment, so I need some new buzz. Maybe The Flaming Lips? Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is in my Amazon wishlist rotation....

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:16 PM

December 02, 2002

Treasure Cineplex

Treasure Planet turned out to be a lot of fun. I'm struggling to remember which version of Treasure Island I saw as a kid where I formed my notions of Long John Silver. It could be the 1934 version with Wallace Beery. By 1950 they were all in color, and I distinctly remember the play of light found only in classic black and white movies.

Long John Silver is a priceless role, complex and hammy at the same time. You'd think in the dozen versions made that there would be an array of stars playing Silver, all vying for this classic role. In fact Orson Welles played Silver in one version, Charleton Heston another, and as I recall, Wallace Beery was excellent. Even Jack Palance I can see. But browsing over some of the choices ... Vic Tayback? Um, no.

So anyways, I'm watching the animated performance of Silver in Treasure Planet, and I get this eerie feeling that the animators have seen the same movie I vaguely remember from my childhood. He's got that same unctuous devilishness, the underlying emotional complexity I remember from the past. Brian Murray seems to have a rather spotty media presence, so maybe he is more of a stage actor. In any case, his performance was just spot on.

There were the usual comic relief characters, including the non-gender-specific 'animal' mascot, a shape-shifting creature called Morph. Kelly got the biggest kick out of that, so I guess the Disney formula is not to be sniffed at.

One side-effect of this outing is that I may be going to a movie I'd hoped to avoid. There was a huge three-dimensional display in the lobby promoting Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights. It included a button labelled "Don't push the button". Kelly pushed it, and was treated to Adam Sandler in a mugging cartoon voice screeching "Why did you push the button?!? It said don't push the button..." and so on. So she started in on me. Gotta see this Daddy.

"Gee, Kelly, it says PG-13. I guess that means we can't go."

"What's PG-13, Daddy?"

"It means Parental Guidance is required. I think it means you have to be at least 13..."

"Let's ask her!" said Kelly, pointing to the young woman in the box office.

The young woman explained that PG-13 is advisory only, so that even children could see the movie, but parents might want to know, if their kids are under 13.

"So do I have to be below 13 to see Eight Crazy Nights?", she asked, making a barrier gesture with her hand, as if to say: 'you must be this tall to ride on the Adam Sandler Express'.

We all had a good chuckle over that, but in the end Kelly came away with the impression that she had a god given right to see this movie. I tried telling her it was gross. "What's that mean Daddy?"

"Well, Kelly, there's lots of 'rude noise' jokes."

"I like those. They're funny."

"Okay, but it may be boring. It's the usual bad boy discovers how to be the neighborhood saint through working with a sports league. Dull, huh?"

"I like the part where the grandmother says, 'Norman, I'm scared', but she really isn't."

I can tell I'm not gaining any ground here. My plan for now is to simply not mention the thing. Maybe she'll forget. I hope I hope.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:48 AM

December 01, 2002

Holiday Report

Thursday was fun. I made my holiday tofu chili, Jean made turkey, Kelly helped out in general. I tried to find the number for my Dad's new Florida digs, but as usual I flaked. Last time we spoke, he dictated it to me, and I jotted it on the pages of a tech journal article I was reading, but now I can't find the article. Hopefully he'll call, or Brenda will email me the number.

Friday saw the expiration of a prescription I was taking for a nerve tic (doctor's diagnosis so far, anyway), and by Friday evening the tic was back in full force, keeping me up most of the night. Saturday was surreal, and I called the doctor's on-call line to get an extension of the prescription until I have my next appointment on Tuesday. It worked, and I was able to sleep last night. Amazing the difference sleep makes in your attitude.

Today I fixed our salmon supper for lunch, since we are planning on going to the Zoolights Festival at the Oregon Zoo this evening. In about an hour, Kelly and I will probably be going to see Treasure Planet. Tomorrow she has no school, so Jean is going to drop her off at my work place while she has an appointment. Kelly will get to meet all my coworkers in the hour she's there.

That's all, folks!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:23 PM

November 27, 2002

Wittgenstein's Poker

This is my latest library experiment (see the link in the title for the complete first chapter). The subject refers to a meeting between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper at a session of the Moral Science Club at Cambridge in 1946, where one version of events has Wittgenstein becoming so upset with Popper that he threatened him with a fireplace poker.

I have surprised myself by covering a third of the book so far. I was expecting a rather overblown puff piece, given that the central topic can be exhausted in a chapter or two. And indeed, the second chapter is devoted not to the central topic, but to life and culture in Cambridge, post-War. It's fair that the authors dwell on the background of the participants of the meeting that day, so that absorbs another passel of pages. But they are in danger at every step of devolving into an epsiode of "In Search Of...", or "History's Mysteries".

What may be the saving grace of this book is how the authors use the central conflict as a springboard for exploring the schools of philosophy and politics of the time. This is what I was 'promised' by one review, and I continue to read with that expectation. I'm nevertheless 'impressed' that I've read this far, since usually I grab books like this from the library exactly because they are useful only for browsing and a quick skim.

That's been the fate of several books I've not bothered to mention here, the latest being The Hunt for Zero Point, by Nick Cook. That book, by a former editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, purported to be a investigative report into the government cover-up of secret anti-gravity research. The book was full of plates showing napkin sketches for secret engines and fuzzy photographs of delta-wing planes. Anything that could be construed as proof of something unconventional. It harkened back to the days of my youth when I read such books as Flying Saucers: Serious Business, by Frank Edwards. I had a few good laughs, but didn't bother plowing through it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

November 26, 2002

Mickey Lives

That title may be a bit premature. I took Jean's 25-year old Mickey Mouse watch to Ray's Watch Repair on Saturday, before going to NOVA. He was sitting in his little kiosk, reading the sports page, oblivious to myself and another customer. I tapped on the counter and got his attention, explaining that I wanted to get the watch working if possible.

He popped the back, and said "it's running now." Huh? Jean said the hands didn't move. I assume he wound it just before opening it, and that the movement was okay, if sluggish. It just doesn't translate to the hands moving. He said that the watch was in better condition than similarly old ones he's seen, so it might just work after a cleaning. He won't guarantee the work, since the watch is such a cheap one.

Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed. I asked him to put a new crystal on it as well. The job will supposedly take two to three weeks. Because, you know, he has to finish the sports pages.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:46 AM

Botany Trip

We all went down to my office this weekend, so Jean could run some errands. Kelly stayed with me, and noticed that the plants in my office had some dried leaves and wilty parts. So I gave her some scissors and let her prune them. "But don't touch the fern!" I said. I even explained why it would be a bad idea to touch the fern. She insisted that there were some dry stems in the pot, and I told her that if she could sneak the scissors in and snip them without touching anything else on the plant, she could have a go at it.

Today I'm looking at a moribund fern. I'm wondering if I should try to nurse it back from the brink of death, or just make a field trip to the Wilsonville Garden Center. I'm leaning toward the latter. But I'll probably keep the dying fern until it's clearly hopeless...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:39 AM

November 25, 2002

New Foods

I'm now a confirmed squash eater. Butternut squash last weekend, acorn squash this weekend. Yum. Also, given the success of the trout-for-lunch experiment last Saturday, I picked up some basa for lunch this weekend. The fish guy didn't know what it was, just that it 'tastes good'. Probably just the standard sell-it spiel. Only after I got home did I look it up on the Internet and find it was Vietnamese catfish. Nice sweet fish.

Hmmm. Is there an insult lurking in there? "You squash eating basa lover!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:44 AM

November 24, 2002

We're A Bad Trip

You know, you really shouldn't take yourself so seriously.

If you want to know why, it's cuz no one else does.

Somewhere along the line someone told you you were deep and sensitive

but you're not,

no you're not

Came to the party, drank all the beer,

cause we're a bad trip, yeah we're a bad trip

Camper Van Beethoven, circa 1986.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:48 AM

November 23, 2002

Kelly In The Light

Jean got totally sick of looking at the Uwajimaya picture in the banner, so I dug around in my shoebox of photos and scanned in one of Kelly. Sorry, the banner only links to the full-size scan, not a gallery. I've been rather too busy to do more. Later!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:58 PM

November 19, 2002

Milestone Made O' Fat

Another milestone. This morning the scale saw 194.5 lbs. I know that this will be short-lived (I shall return!), because I've been feeling sick, and I tend to drop the discipline and go for the carbo's when that happens. Today's lunch included corn tortilla chips and spicy tuna sushi, so I expect an evening reading of 200 lbs. or more. I keep telling myself that it's the trend lines that matter...

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:53 PM

More Time Tales

Kelly and I hit the mall on Saturday on a Christmas mission. She needed to locate Peer Gynt "for Mom", and I needed to find out if we could repair her two broken watches. Both are Mickey Mouse watches, of different vintage. The battery-powered one is from our trip to Disney World about a decade ago. The mechanical one is from Jean's childhood, and has sat in a box on it's own homemade denim wristband for years. It's 25 or 30 years old.

Back at the Sears watch repair shop, the same lady easily replaced the battery in the newer watch, even putting a new strap on the wristband. But opening up the wind-up, she declared that it was a 'single-piece' movement, too difficult to work with, built cheap for childrens' watches, lo these many years ago. Okay, so I'm batting .500, better if you count the fact that I've got a G.I. Joe wind-up watch in the mail for Jean's stocking.

We went up to the food court to see what Kelly wanted for a treat, but stopped in the record store first to look for Kelly's present "for Mom." After a brief search we found it, but getting Kelly out of the store was like pulling teeth. Every little thing grabbed her attention, and she kept hauling me back into the store by the arm (she's strong for a seven-year old). I don't know if you have been into a Sam Goody's store before, but it is CDs, DVDs and videotapes, T-shirts, posters, 'toys' based on comic-book heroes, in other words, a honeypot for kids. We eventually got out of there, and headed to get some ice cream.

By now we were at the other end of the mall from where we parked, so Kelly had to eat and walk while I 'broke trail'. In a bit I noticed that her two-scooper was listing to one side, and I suggested that we sit on a bench until she finished it. She got a chair, and I stooped down beside her. While she reveled in the sensory pleasure, I reveled in the stream of people.

I've always enjoyed this aspect of the mall, and indeed any large gathering of people. I love watching them float past, remarkably varied even for the monoculture of Oregon. Now, some fifteen years after we arrived in Oregon, the crowd mix in the mall is even more varied than then. Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, punk, yuppie, rural, urban, it really is all over the map. As people walk by in clusters, I can see them talking animatedly, catching snippets of their conversation, embellished by their body English. Some stories are playing out as they walk past. Next to us, a grandmother tries to convince her 3 or 4-year old granddaughter to take her hand. After some cajoling she stands straight and marches down the hall. The child jumps as if shocked by electricity, and scurries after Grandma.

I think I could do this all day. In my many and varied careers, I worked in a mall bookstore, and it was there I picked up the habit of entertaining myself by immersing myself in the babbling brook at the mall. It was fun to do it again. I don't usually go to the mall, maybe twice a year.

Update: I've since called a watch repair shop (not Sears kiosk style, but a full-blown watch-smith) and he says that the watch may be of a sort that can't be repaired, but that he is equipped better to try. So for a baseline of $50, we're going to try to restore Jean's heirloom watch to function. Funny, in my reading on the web, I'm told that you should really have a mechanical watch cleaned and repaired every two years. If this watch was as cheap as all that, does it make sense to spend $50 every two years to maintain it? For that matter, the G.I. Joe watch is only $40. Are we going to 'maintain' that one? 'Time' will tell. In the meantime, I'm saving up for a Poljot Shturmanskie (just kidding).

More cruft gleaned from the Internet in the great watch hunt: remember automatic watches? They use tiny counterbalancing wheels to wind up the mainspring when your wrist moves about. This saves you the drudgery of actually having to wind the watch once a day. I suppose it could also reduce the number of gears attached to the stem (setting time, winding the mainspring), but I've read it requires more gears to handle the counterbalance. Anyway, maybe an automatic watch is still too unreliable for you. What if you leave it on the dresser for a few days? Then you have to waggle it about until it's wound. Or you could buy a watch winder, a case with a wristband mount that rotates, to wind your watch up when you are not wearing it. And the Regency model (single watch only) costs a mere $380! Wow! God I love those Yankee inventors!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:45 PM

Lo Fi

I had to pick up a prescription today, so while waiting for them to fill it, I picked up One Beat by Sleater Kinney. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Fred Meyers carries them, as they are a Portland band (by way of Olympia, Washington). I doubt their indie fem-rock cred buys much with the Fred Meyers purchasing agents, though.

More to my surprise was that they had Sigur Ros (the same album I have, ágćtis byrjun). What's going on there?

Anyway, back to Sleater Kinney. Sorta thrashy, fast and loud, with some musical virtuousity layered over it all. I'm not sure I actually like it. I'll give it another listen in a day or two. Right now the medicine is turning my stomach, so I guess I'll go with something familiar: Do The Collapse, from Guided By Voices. It's a measure of my musical isolation that I wasn't aware that there was an entire 'historical' movement in which GBV was embedded. NPR had a history of the Lo Fi movement, in which artists recorded their work on sub-$200 four-track audiocassette decks, producing low-fidelity demo tapes to sell and trade at concerts, bars and so on.

More evidence of musical cluelessness: Do The Collapse was a conscious attempt to break into polished studio production, with Rik Ocasek in the producer's seat. The linked review above calls it a terrible disappointment, and suggests Alien Lanes instead. Me, I just picked up the only GBV CD in the rack at Tower Records, having heard good things about them at the time. In any case, I've listened to the album a dozen times, so I can pick out the familiar riffs I enjoy through the nausea. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:51 PM

November 14, 2002

Another Edvard

Coincidentally, another Edvard came up in our morning routine. Kelly was humming thirteen notes over and over. They were from the opening phrase of In the Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg. It turns out that some ad agency had lifted it for a Christmas commercial, and Kelly was referring to it as the "mystery of Christmas."

So I explained where it came from, and that there were more notes , and Kelly suggested I purchase it "for Mom." Nice indirection there. I guess I'll be looking for a cheap CD of the Peer Gynt Suite this weekend...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:14 AM

Spoon Holders, Pop Culture and High Art

This morning Kelly noticed a spoon rest on the stove, and wondered aloud "why is the lady afraid?" I tried to explain, Reader's Digest style, about Edvard Munch, Impressionism, and the historical context of the original painting (yeah, right), but she just wanted a quick story. In the end I brought up a web page, and pointed her to the original picture. She was totally unimpressed.

It was only after we had left that I realized. Jean's going to come home after a hard day at school. She's going to prepare for doing homework, then sit down at the computer to do some writing before picking up Kelly. This is how she describes her normal routine. The computer will be asleep. She'll tap a key to wake it up, sitting patiently while the phosphors begin to glow. And there, full size on the screen, will be The Scream. Wish I could see her reaction.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:58 AM

November 13, 2002

QOTD

This manages to achieve a flavor similar to a clove-turpentine-banana smoothie with a twist of agony from both the awful flavor and the idea that liquid bugs are now circulating to every cell of my body.

James "Kibo" Parry

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:01 PM

Dekkagar

Remember this post? Bet you never thought I'd get around to telling you what I think. Well, I've been listening to the CD for not quite a month now (on and off, in rotation with other stuff I've had for a long time), and I am happy I got it. One review called it a Curtis Mayfield pastiche, but really, that's perhaps two songs on the album.

I can't think of a single song on this album which I don't like, though some have insinuated themselves into my brain more than others. Right now, I'm listening to the second song, "feather clip", and it is like listening to an old David Gilmour album, which is a good thing. Elsewhere on this album, there are traces of Grateful Dead, Phish (is this redundant?), Lennon (John, Sean, Julian, take your pick) and the Tower of Power mellowed by a Sunday afternoon.

I probably listen to a fraction of the music that, say, Eliot Gelwan does, and my knowledge is not encyclopedic. So usually I'm reduced to "I may not know what art is, but I know what I like." Since I'm not trying to convince you to run out and buy this or any other work by National Trust, I guess that's okay. But conversely, if you like to play the "if you liked this album, you'll love ----" game, then by all means send me your suggestions, especially if you liked Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, or Dekkagar, of course.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:45 PM

Lead Balloon

My weight is gradually going down (maybe as slowly as it went up?), but my body fat monitor scale says I'm bouncing along at 21-22%. On a bad day, 22.5%. Now that's better than the 25% I measured when I started using that doohickey, and the chart that came with it puts me just under the ceiling for a healthy fat percentage now, but I'd like to get it lower.

I'm not willing to become an ascetic, and in fact I've changed my eating habits considerably already. I exercise at least three times a week and walk on days I don't. While I appreciate seeing 197 lbs. on the scale in the morning, I wish I could find the magic combo of diet and exercise which I can sustain that would make that 21-22% become, say, 19%. Ideas, anyone?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:40 AM

Splitting Hairs

I'm not a religious person, so maybe I can be accused of being dense here. Perhaps some of my religious acquaintances can tell me if I'm missing something. On the way in to work today I heard on the news that Catholic officials are putting the final touches on how they plan to handle sexual abuse charges against their priests:

"Our position has been that we will remove from active ministry all priests who have ever offended against a child sexually," said Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop of Cincinnati. "In doing that we also need to be aware of the demands of our own canon law" that provide justice to the accused, he told United Press International.

But isn't sexual abuse a crime? Do not the secular courts exist to try and decide justice? The only reason the church seems to be worried about unjustly dismissing priests is that it doesn't seem to occur to them to actually report alledged abuse as a crime:

Civil law supersedes canon law in every jurisdiction in the United States. Let the laity work to ''keep the faith and change the church.'' Let the lawmakers of this country work to change the laws and keep the churchmen accountable.

Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist, 11/13/2002

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 AM

November 12, 2002

New Fish on the Block

I forgot to mention that we did indeed stop by the pet store and pick a new goldfish with Kelly. Her first fish, her first pet, Rose, lies peaceful in her grave, and her new fish, Lily, has survived since we took her home Saturday morning. Her home is the classical one-gallon fishbowl, so we are supposed to change her water once a week. That means her first environmental shock since we brought her home happens next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed. I don't want another funeral...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:45 AM

November 11, 2002

Play Taps

Wah! I just ate my last Honeycrisp apple. The grocery store didn't have any, and the last one on my shelf at work is now in my tummy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:11 PM

More on RSS

I know Pascale understands when I say "the RSS link is in my sidebar" but I realized that others might not. I think I've got an audience of maybe three regular readers, but on the off chance that anyone cares, you can find a brief introduction to RSS news aggregators in this John Udell article in Byte magazine online. John goes over a number of Windows apps which read RSS, none of which I can use, being Mac-centric at home, and Sun Unix at work.

The 'link' I was referring to is the little orange 'XML' icon on the left of the front page of Terebi II.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:08 AM

Best Made Plans

On the note of upgrading my iBook to Mac OS X 10.1.5: I originally did it so I could run Fallout 2, which wouldn't run on Mac OS X 10.0, my original installation. So it's rather ironic that I haven't played Fallout 2 more than two hours since I got it. OS X 10.1.5 is so much improved over 10.0, that I've been spending all my time using the iBook on programming and Internet projects, so there's little time left over for games.

In fact, I'm generally having to force myself to go to sleep by midnight, or I'd never get any sleep. In a silly bit of social engineering, I've taken to keeping the older battery in the iBook, since it only holds about three hours of charge (the newer one is good for five). Now I can rely on the computer telling me to go to bed when the battery runs low!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 AM

Low Tech Feed

My weblogging acquaintance Pascale Soleil sent me a note recently asking if I had an RSS feed for my weblog. She probably thought to ask as I've begun linking to NetNewsWire Lite in the sidebar. Since I recently upgraded my iBook to Mac OS X, I've been able to use this news aggregation tool and I've actually changed my weblog browsing habits, using it whenever a decent feed is available. Only a few sites that I read regularly don't have an RSS feed at all, and a couple have RSS feeds that are inadequate (listing article titles, but not providing any description is a sin of this sort). I think I'll be adding back a link to Follow Me Here, as his RSS feed is of this weak sort.

Alas, my answer to Pascale had to be "no." I use Greymatter as my weblogging tool, and it doesn't include RSS generation out of the box. Noah Grey has retired from developing this tool, and deserves the break. So further development is left to third parties. There are two RSS solutions that I've found for Greymatter, and both of them commit the sin I've described above, so I won't use them.

In the intervening period, I tried to set up a minimal installation of Movable Type, another weblogging tool, to evaluate it. It is said to have built-in RSS support. Whether it commits the sin described above I'd have to find out during evaluation. However, installation didn't go smoothly, since there were conflicts with Perl libraries at my ISP. I could ask him to update his Perl installation, and he might even do it, as he's a nice guy. But I've already asked a favor of him regarding authenticated SMTP, so I want to wait awhile before begging another one.

So that leaves roll-your-own. This weekend I began tinkering, reading the tutorial on RSS 0.92 linked above, running hacky perl scripts on my iBook.When the output of my tests validated, I was ready to go public. I'm currently running this script manually when I post an article or two. Eventually, I'll try to wedge it into the Greymatter cgi's so that it happens automatically. What it does is just scrape the front page for articles and stream them out in appropriate RSS format. I simplified my scraping by adding some comment tags to the front page template.

I reserve the right to retract this functionality at any time, but for now, the link to my 'feed' is in the left sidebar. Enjoy!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:25 AM

Search Engine Fever

At the bottom of my weblog is a script supplied by Stephen's Web, which puts a mini referrer-tracking system inline with my weblog. It tracks how people got to my page. If you just enter the path in your browser, there's nothing to track. But if you arrive here by following a link on somebody else's page, and more than one person does that, it shows up at the bottom of the weblog. Neat huh?

Well, this site is very low traffic, so I usually only see a couple of links from, for instance, Weblogs.com, which I ping whenever I write an article. But last Thursday I posted a quote about a certain famous 'singer', and lo and behold, I have over fifty hits from Google! I mentioned this to Jean, and she said, "teen boys looking for pictures." I think she hit it dead on.

So if I needed flow, I guess I'd just start referring to all the hot MTV teen idols? J*stin T*mb*rl*k*, anyone?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 AM

November 07, 2002

QOTD

In reference to Britney Spears:

She makes me all anxious. Like Bugs Bunny in drag.

Random Slashdot Poster

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:07 PM

November 06, 2002

Juggernaut

garret also points to an editorial letter section on the NYT Website covering peoples' opinions about owning the Hummer:

Hummer's general manager says, "The people that buy this product, they're daring." What's so daring about driving a military vehicle to do errands? Riding a bicycle is daring.

Cute quote, but don't confuse the Hummer representative with owners. Most any owner of an SUV I've ever spoken with chose their vehicle not because they thought it was daring, but the exact opposite. They perceived that that mass of metal gave them a greater safety margin than a small commuter car (like the Honda Civic hatchback I drive). Still self-centered, but more practical than the letter implies.

[And yes, I do know about the high incidence of rollover with SUV's. Others discount that risk, it seems.]

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:24 AM

Wind-up Wiggle

It's always nice to see feedback from other sites. garret p. vreeland, of dangerousmeta! fame, shares his experience as a Seiko Kinetic watch owner...

if i haven't worn the watch, i have to sit for a few minutes winging the watch around to get some tension in the spring. it gets to be habit, but can annoy those in your general vicinity.

Not to take things entirely out of context, he does like his Seiko. If I were more of a watch geek, I could see myself getting one of those, and a wind-up. Maybe the Poljot Shturmanskie? "On the 12th of April 1961 the first cosmonaut Juri Gagarin took the wristwatch "Shturmanskie" into the space during his historical flight."

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:15 AM

November 05, 2002

It Even Plays Reveille

Turns out that the low-tech, inexpensive, style-challenged GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch is totally satisfactory for Jean's needs. Guess there'll be some olive drab in somebody's stocking this Christmas.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 AM

Doctor Smith Gone

Via dangerousmeta: Jonathan Harris dies at 87. Sure, Lost In Space was corny, but not everyone knew this. When Gene Roddenberry was still alive, he toured colleges with footage of early Star Trek episodes and bloopers. I saw him at Michigan Tech, where he related that when he was trying to sell the show, CBS told him "we already have an adult science fiction show." Still, I had a king-size crush on Penny Robinson, and Dr. Smith was always fun, even though the 'comic' version was not as much fun as the first few episodes.

Ironically, Harris died of a blood clot while receiving treatment for back problems (Dr. Smith's perrenial excuse from work).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 AM

November 04, 2002

Wind-up Watches

A couple of follow-ups on the wind-up watch story. Dunno if Jean is going to be interested, but I found a few places sell Seiko Kinetic (self-winding) watches for under $200 (seiko-kinetic-watches.com; princeton watches; Invicta, Poljot). Still steep, but doable. Less stylish is the GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch. Only $40! But olive-drab?

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:17 PM | Comments (4)

March of Time

Went to the mall yesterday, on a mission. Jean needed to pick up pre-filters for the air filters we use around the house, but more importantly, I wanted to find out if any store still carried wind-up watches, as Jean wanted one. I needed her along so she could explain exactly what she wanted, and pick styles.

I'd done an earlier search on the web, and found mostly Rollex and other high-end brands which are way over our price range. So I decided that I might have better luck if I could actually talk to a human being. Turns out, the web search was representative. None of the mall jewelry stores carry winding watches. The one specialty store, Watch World, had an 'automatic' watch, what I used to call 'self-winding', but they wanted $350 for it. Ouch. The guy also tried to sell us on solar-powered watches as somehow equivalent to wind-up watches. Huh?

So we went to buy the filters at Sears, and I saw the watch repair shop inside the store. I went over and asked the repair woman about wind-up watches.

"We don't have any," she said.

"Do you know where we can get one?" I asked.

"How much you want to spend?"

Jean pitched in with what seemed like a generous ceiling price. "Under $200."

"No." Just a flat-out denial of the possibility.

"So we'd need to spend more than $200 to get a wind-up watch nowadays?" I asked.

"A lot more. Try a pawn shop."

So there's a pawn shop near where NOVA usually holds it's meetings, and next weekend is a meeting. Guess I'm going to a pawn shop. And looking for a watch repair shop near home which can fix broken old wind-up watches, since that's what started all this.

I'm guessing that it's pretty cheap to make a reasonably accurate watch using chips, crystals and batteries, especially given economies of scale. The vast majority of people are satisfied with these battery-powered, electronic watches, and in fact find them somewhat more reliable and maintainance free than old-fashioned mechanical watches. As a result, sometime over the last couple of decades, the market shifted away from the old springs-and-cogs versions, so much so that they became specialty items. No economy of scale, limited market for an item requiring skilled engineering to produce reasonable accuracy. This all translates into those high price tags we were seeing. I'm hoping that doesn't mean repairing Jean's old Mickey Mouse watch will be expensive...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:53 AM

Wish Fish

Kelly was so taken with the fishing game they had at the Tigard HS haunted house (notwithstanding the loss of Rose), that she invented her own version. She took her favorite stick (yes, she has one), tied some string on the end, with a clothes pin attached, then hid behind the couch with a stack of post-it notes and a pencil. Jean and I took turns 'fishing', and the 'wish fish' would gift us with various pithy homilies, such as 'luv yur family' and 'fede the pore'. The best part was when we got a treasure award and Kelly would come rushing out from behind the couch to lay a smooch on us.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:33 AM

November 02, 2002

Grief

It had to happen. Kelly's fish, already named Rose, kicked it yesterday. Belly up and all that. I had taken the day off as Kelly had no school, and Jean needed to work/study. We went to see The Santa Clause 2, which was painless and at times actually fun. Then Kelly and I went to Gameswitch to pick out a couple of Gameboy Color games for her Christmas stocking. When we got home, after those two cheerful field trips, we received the baleful news.

Kelly really took it hard. Perhaps more dramatically than the event required, as she'd had the fish for less than 24 hours. But I remember being broken up quite severely by the death of a moth when I was a kid, so I gave her the big shoulder to cry on. And cry she did. It was really painful to watch.

I then cut up some honeydew and pretty much hand-fed her, as all she'd had since lunch was popcorn and Halloween candy. After that I got her some noodle soup, and she began to feel better. She was still sad about the loss, but it was no longer that "why did Rose have to leave this Earth so soon?" theatrics.

This morning Kelly had a funeral for Rose, digging the grave herself, holding a eulogy, and marking the grave with a popsicle stick cross. I struggled to keep a straight face when Kelly was making the cross, as she was humming a funeral dirge to herself while she worked. But she was clearly deadly serious, even though the immediate grief had receded.

Now that afternoon has arrived, she seems to have put it behind her, though she's already asked for two fish. I'm guessing the operating theory is that each fish can look after the other, or keep it from dying of loneliness. I dunno. But I guess we'll be stopping by the pet shop tomorrow, since we are going to the mall to hunt for Christmas presents.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:07 PM

November 01, 2002

Halloween

Ye gods! It was cold last night! When Kelly and I went out, I was wearing two jackets, my pullover sweatjacket, and my winter coat. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I took Kelly in to school this morning, and she wore her costume, Peter Pan, makeshift from a green shirt with a lace-up collar and green shorts. We got her green socks as well, but she decided that Peter Pan didn't wear socks. This whole costume sprang out of whole cloth (ar, ar) when I brought home a cheap Rheinlander hat from work, where it was a gimme at the Oktoberfest party. Kelly saw it and immediately decided that she didn't want to be a cat after all. Anyway, her school encourages kids to come in their costumes on Halloween day, so here we were. I think she told every third person on the way in "I'm Peter Pan!" She was completely thrilled that no one else at school seemed to have thought of that costume.

I didn't participate in most of her day. Jean's gonna fill me in later. But she apparently had Halloween activities after school, including at her daycare, and then with Jean at the Tigard High School, where the highschool kids were putting on a haunted house. I got home by 6pm so I could be available to take Kelly around the neighborhood, but they didn't get home until after 6:30. I had time to eat something before we went out into the cold, cold night.

Kelly really cleaned up this year. I guess the spoils really do go to the brave. We passed the occasional brave soul, but I think the cold weeded out a lot of the weaker folk. In fact, at several houses, small kids were handing out the candy. I've got two big pockets on my winter coat, and Kelly filled both of them with overflow from her rather large bucket.

Last year her attempt to connnect briefly with the givers of candy was to ask them about their pets and children. This year, she seemed to have three repeating strategies. "You have a beautiful house," was one. The second was a history lesson: "I'm Peter Pan! Peter Pan was first played by a girl. But he was a boy in the movie!" And finally, in some cases as she was walking away from the door, she'd comment, sotto voce, "he's a very bright fellow!" After that we were dividing households into those where the occupants seemed to enjoy the spirit of the holiday, and those who merely went through it for form's sake. As to the dark houses, well, they contained the irredeemable.

Almost forgot, Kelly has a goldfish now. She won it at the haunted house. So while Jean and I have been debating if she had the maturity to take care of a pet, fate overrode us. We'll see how long it takes for Jean to have to start caring for it, since I'm certainly not going to.

Kelly and I wrapped up the Halloween evening watching a 'classic' show which has been enjoying a revival recently in Canada, the House of Frightenstein, with "Billy Van, Billy Van, Billy Van, etc., Fishka Rais as Igor, Guy Big as Count Munchkinstein, and special guest star Vincent Price". It is an old, extremely corny kid's show, hosted by a friendly vampire, and for Halloween, the host of the linked site made available an entire episode. Kelly was ready to watch the entire series after that, but alas, it is not available.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 AM

October 28, 2002

Another Brush With 'Fame'

It's amusing the number of ways the weblogging community has managed to spice up their culture. Many of these folks use tools such as Moveable Type for their writing needs, and get new 'toy' features for free. One of these is called Trackback, which lets a weblogger notify another about related content. And of course there are the classical referer logs. I check mine occasionally out of curiousity, but I also link to this service which lets you list the sites that sent visitors from their page to your page. It's at the bottom of my web log, and usually just contains a ref to Google or some such.

So imagine my surprise when I see a referal coming from How Appealing, the law weblog I occasionally read. I can only guess that he skims his referer logs and posts links found there randomly, as I've done nothing to attract his attention. But ain't it entertaining when one of the 'biggies' sends flow (three visits, W00t!) your way?

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:43 PM

Weekend Update

Friday night saw Kelly and I having a 'camp-out'. This consists of putting an inflatable bed into the living room, where Kelly watches cartoons and such while playing her Gameboy games, and I fiddle with my laptop. Around midnight, it's lights out, and much giggling and noise making follows. Eventually we settle down, and Kelly goes to sleep. I sorta sleep, but also get woken up by small, cold feet pressing into my back, sharp fingernails poking me in the ear, and other hazards of a restless daughter. Still it was fun enough.

Saturday I took Kelly to a Halloween party thrown by her Sunday school. It was out at one of the member's farm, 120 wooded acres. There was a hayride, with the hayrick pulled by a restored antique tractor. Kelly loved it. When all was done, we drove home and I got ready for NOVA. We had our meeting in our original venue, which we haven't been in for years. It was startling to see the place, which we'd once considered enormous, filled to capacity. The old club has grown. We didn't take in a movie afterward, opting instead for a late night snack.

Sunday was a typical chore day, and the evening meal was co-prepared by Jean and I. I fixed Dover Sole (with a portion topped with toasted cheese for Kelly), Brussel sprouts, and roasted corn on the cob. Jean served polenta with bean sauce. Kelly got a serving of everything (one Brussel sprout, I ain't no fool). She complained roundly about several items, and then when we asked her to please try them, ended up liking most of them. She finished dinner by taking a single leaf from a Brussel Sprout, and making a milkshake in the blender which included it. Secret ingredients, gotta love 'em.

I introduced Jean to NetNewsWire Lite last night, after spending spare cycles between cooking chores upgrading the iMac to include a boot volume of OS X 10.1.5. She's gonna try it out while I'm at work, and ask questions if there's time tonight. While I don't think it will be practical to run the kitchen computer in OS X full-time, I hope to have it there more often. Gonna give myself a goal of finding 'Carbonized' versions of as many of the apps as I can, to make that more feasible. Still, I expect Jean to demand her OS 9, for practical reasons (must be able to share files with the older PowerPC 8500/120 in the den running 8.1, must be able to print, etc.).

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:25 PM

October 25, 2002

Gasp!

It's just horrible. My ReplayTV has about fourteen hours of unwatched shows on it. I've been too busy upgrading my laptop to Mac OS X 10.1.5, and then playing silly games like Fallout 2 (I've just scratched the surface, but it looks like tons of fun).

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:25 AM

October 24, 2002

Hyper Focus

We recently had someone tell us that Kelly possesses 'intense focus'. In the course of the conversation, the terms 'hyper-focused' and 'it's like I wasn't there' also came up. I think I know where she gets this trait, and I hope I can help her learn to balance it so that she actually benefits from it more than it harms her.

I can't honestly say that I've always been this way, but for quite a long time, as long as I can remember, I've been prone to 'hyper-focus' myself. This has benefits and disadvantages. On the benefit side, when I'm working through a problem (how to trim 80% of the time off a flabby algorithm, for instance), I tend to worry over the problem like a dog with a bone. When I wake up in the morning my first thought is what new angle of attack to take. Oftentimes, that new approach springs from dreams, so I even work on it when asleep.

The downside of this trait is that I don't always know when to let go. More nights than I can count have passed with me futilely beating my head against a wall, too tired to make new inroads, too stubborn to give up and go to bed. When I finally am overwhelmed by sleep, the next morning often sees me filled with fresh ideas--ideas which would probably have come even if I'd gone to bed earlier.

This happened recently when I replaced my broken Palm Pilot, and installed the desktop software on the kitchen computer. It stopped responding to the keyboard or mouse, and of course using a computer in that state is rather difficult. I eventually figured out that the Hotsync drivers were auto-starting and sitting on the USB port that the keyboard was hanging off of. A little more investigation showed that I could plug a mouse into one of the ports at the back of the box and get enough control back to shut off the autostart features of Hotsync. By the time I found this out, it was around 12:30am. I could have gone to bed and figured it out overnight subconsciously, or at least negotiated with Jean to see if I could leave the computer in a broken state for that day, but my hyperfocus didn't let me.

Yesterday I was at Fry's ogling the Macs when a salesman approached and asked if I ran OS X (he'd spied the copy of Diablo II in my hand and wanted to 'help' me upgrade to the OS X version, which only cost a little bit more). I told him I ran it on my laptop occasionally, but the software I'd like to buy for it (Fallout 2) only ran on 10.1.4 or higher (I was running 10.0.4). And I had woefully missed out on the free upgrade discs when they were making the rounds. So this very nice sales person says "I'm pretty sure I have a few of those in back."

"Really?" I say, my ears pricking up. "How much would you want for one?"

"One cent." Turns out they were free to Fry's from Apple, and they're just lying in the back, so he goes and gets me one. And that's how I spent yesterday evening, only I quit at 11:30pm instead of the next morning. The machine booted fine, but the login screen was black, so it was kind of hard to type anything or click on anything. This morning I did a clean install, grabbed the updaters from Apple, and I'm now running Mac OS X 10.1.5 on my laptop. Guess who's going to Fry's on the way home?

But the point is, that I still suffer from hyperfocus to my detriment, as well as benefitting from it. However, I don't do this sort of thing nearly as often as I used to. Time was, when in grad school for instance, when this sort of run-till-you-drop syndrome was the common case. Now I regularly ask myself "can I get this done better if I sleep on it?" I just slip up occasionally, is all...

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:48 PM

October 23, 2002

Cynic

After my initial elation yesterday over breaking the 200 mark (I did it again this morning, 199.5 lbs.), I've begun to reflect that part of the loss is a temporary shift due to not strength training. I put upper-body strength training on hiatus until my sprained shoulder is mostly on the mend. Result: loss of muscle mass in the upper body. Translation: less weight on the scale.

Of course, if this continued, the weight dip would begin to tip upward again, as my metabolism slowed due to lower overall muscle mass, and the fat would again begin to deposit. So my weight loss is in fact the first part of a curve:

Pilgrims Progress

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:47 AM

October 22, 2002

Red Letter Day

DISCLAIMER: Since I've been measuring my weight, it has fluctuated quite a lot, due to many factors, such as eating out versus home food, splurging on the occasional ultra-sweet, variations in time available for exercise (and injury recovery), and so on. In the space of one given week, for example, I saw a difference of eight pounds! But while I haven't charted my numbers recently, the trend has been gradually downward. I was thinking I may have plateaued, and would need to refine my diet some more, but...

This morning I weighed myself, and the scale registered 199 pounds! Woo hoo! This is the first time I've seen the light side of 200 in over two years. W00t! I expect to read 200+ this evening, and again many times, but I hope to be trending down enough that I see 200- more often. Wish me luck.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 AM

October 21, 2002

'Anime' Spam

Snort! I don't normally bother to read obvious spam, but I got an email today, "Pay and Get Paid in Rupees", which was from "Kanchi". As it happens, there is a character in Furi Kuri (a robot, actually) named Kanchi, and that was enough to get me to open the message, in the misbegotten hope that the spammer had a sense of humor. But alas, no.

I realize this was just a coincidence, but what if it had been a deliberate ploy? What would come next? Mail from your favorite soap-star?

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:43 PM

Back Report

Just a quick report. I've been off the meds all day, and have minimal discomfort. I'm not going to start doing backflips (as if I ever could), and I'll be holding off on strength training until perhaps the start of next week, but overall, I'm on the mend.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:37 PM

October 20, 2002

The Ring

From alt.asian.movies comes a review of The Ring, an urban legend horror movie which is a remake of (an adaptation? inspired by?) either The Ring Virus, from Korea, or Ringu, from Japan, of which the Korean film is also a remake:

...And then there are the horses. Yes, horses. I offer no spoilers--just advice--track down the original Japanese film, which was never a great film to begin with, but is a step ahead of its Korean remake at all times, and miles down the road from Western revisionism.


Ringu ("Ring") ***

Ring ("The Ring Virus") **1/2

The Ring *

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:56 AM

October 19, 2002

New CD

Jean and I ordered a few things from Amazon that arrived today. Among them were a couple of Christmas presents, which we promptly hid away, and an album I'd been meaning to buy for some time, Dekkagar, by National Trust. I'd bought it on the strength of one factoid: the album was produced by Brian Deck, who produced many of Modest Mouse's albums. Strange you may think, but consider that Brian Eno produced many a band which became famous, such as Talking Heads and Roxy Music.

So I've got the album, and listened to the first two tracks, once. It will take a few more listens to determine if it was a good purchase. Trying it out at home is difficult, since neither Jean nor Kelly share my eclectic tastes. While listening to the album, Jean shook her head, and Kelly burrowed into a corner to play with her food (making a pyramid with grapes and scotch tape, if you must know). When I told Kelly "when this song is done, it'll be time for us to practice your reading," she muttered "I'd rather listen to this than do my reading." Great, insulted twice in one sentence!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:23 PM

Back Problems

Life told me to slow down this weekend. Or rather my back did. Around Thursday evening it began hurting in the left shoulder, under the shoulder blade. By night time, it was clear that I'd somehow pulled a muscle, and it was intent on recruiting all the other muscles in my back. I got about four hours of sleep, and decided that I was in no shape to go to work.

Instead I went to Dr. Selby, got checked out, and received a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain killers. I found that I could sit in my chair in the den, in a sort of relaxed posture, and feel minimal pain, so I fired up my PSOne and began playing Parasite Eve. I'm still in 'Day Five', but I've beat the crab (finally), beat the stinkin' centipede, and beat up a few dozen dinosaurs (that Museum is huge). I think I played more PE yesterday than I'd played cumulatively before that.

I felt good enough to go grocering with the family today, although Jean wouldn't let me push the cart or lift any packages. I made up a batch of salsa when we got home, then put together plates of grapes, cheese, apples and tomatoes, as well as chips for the salsa. About an hour after lunch, Kelly and I did her reading practice, and I nearly fell asleep. Guess my body's trying to tell me something. So I ended up taking a nap.

Fortunately I got my homework assignment for photography class done by lunchtime on Thursday, or I would never have completed it. Now I just have to pick up the slides when they are ready...

If I sound spacey, it's because I am. Doing the meds make me feel rather fuzzy. On the one hand, it reduces the pain, though I have to be careful not to turn my head too quickly. On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to Monday, as I need to drive in to work, and you can't take meds that put you to sleep when you need to drive. So looking forward to a slightly uncomfortable Monday morning...

At least this isn't the classic syndrome I suffered from for several years a decade ago, when my lower back would give out completely, for no apparent reason, leaving me racked with spasms and unable to move. Since I started strength training, that sort of problem seems much less likely. Well, enough rambling.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:07 PM

October 16, 2002

Hire An Editor?

Another one of those annoying 'illit' slips that show up where they shouldn't:

The approach also has spawned a number of venture funded start-ups are readying such products.

That from the front cover of EE Times. Okay, they're not Lingua Franca, but really, is it that hard to spot a bungled sentence on the front cover? The irony here, if you follow the links, is that Lingua Franca has had to cease publication, due to insufficient funds. Literate and no business plan, or illiterate and steady cash flow. Hmmm.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:05 PM

October 15, 2002

Wallace and Gromit Return

I've definitely got to watch this when I get home tonight (with Kelly, of course):

Wallace and Gromit film premičres

We have all three of the existing adventures, and I'm sure we'll buy the new short films when and if they become available. They're lots of fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:25 AM

October 14, 2002

Camera Work

Tonight is my second class in photography. Mentor's recreational committee is sponsoring it, and while it is quite simple (one two-hour evening class a week for eight weeks), I'm finding most of my free time swallowed up by it. We are supposed to shoot a roll of slide film each week, concentrating on a particular aspect of photography each time. The slides I'm supposed to show this week deal with exposure: one high value (mostly whites) image, one low value (mostly blacks) and one high contrast image. This is to explore the metering behavior of my camera, which the teacher points out will want to set exposure to 18% gray.

Finding the time and appropriate subjects for these photographs consumes some of my time, but another sizeable chunk is taken by me frantically poring over my camera manual and experimenting with the controls. I'm taking this class for a reason: I am very focused when it comes to studying for my professional interests, but when it comes to hobbies, I need structure to achieve my goals. Taking the class forces me to read the manual, play with the settings, and otherwise make progress beyond the full automatic mode of the camera.

An example of this is that I've had my digital camera for yonk's ages, but I've not really comprehended all the available settings, though I've experimented with them, read the manual, and a tutorial book for my specific camera. This weekend I was fiddling with it in case I wanted to take pictures at the Onion Festival (I didn't), and I got to playing with the Aperture Priority mode. "Oh, so that's what that means," I found myself thinking. Of course, it also helps that I've now been spurred to read the book that Alan lent me, Creative Camera Control.

So now you know why posting has been so sparse lately, and why it will probably be sparse for the next six or seven weeks. I just thought I'd post a spate of articles to keep the site from getting stale...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:40 AM

Free the Mouse

I've groused before about the Copyright Term Extension Act, which to me clearly violates the intent of the Constitution:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to ... promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8

Last week the Supreme Court heard the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, which unless you've been living under a rock, you should at least be aware of, since there's been a flurry of news coverage on the case, which challenges Sonny Bono's legacy gift to Disney and their ilk ("Congress was not acting to promote progress, it was acting to reward 'court favorites.'"). Now Lawrence Lessig, the lawyer who challenged the act on behalf of his clients, writes up his own impressions of the case.

It is the particular hell for lawyers that after an argument, we live in the purgatory of constantly reliving the argument.

It's really interesting, give it a read.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 AM

Game Strategy

It's official. Jean has decided to get Kingdom Hearts as a joint gift to Kelly and me for Christmas. This is cool, as I know Kelly wants it, and I think I'll enjoy playing it with her. The reports from my game-playing friends are mostly positive, though I've been warned that the real-time fighting system requires more 'twitch-factor' than the standard SquareSoft turn-based battle systems. So I guess I'll give the controller to Kelly when it's time to fight, since her reflexes are a lot faster than mine

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:56 AM

October 12, 2002

Onion Festival

We just got back from the "Onion Festival" in Sherwood. Tweren't much of a festival, just some chicken dinners in the Archer Elementary School gym, arts and crafts on the other side, a raffle, and two games, bucket toss with onions, and bowling with onions.

I think it would have had more value for us if it had been at Kelly's school, since it felt a lot like the sort of fund-raising stuff they do at Bridgeport. We went because Kelly asked to, and she'd been rather good this week. I think she was expecting something more like what they do at Bridgeport too. We stayed about an hour, Kelly bought a pendant, then it was off to home again.

Oh, and other than the two 'onion games', they only had onion rolls and baked onions. They need to work on their theme more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:49 PM

October 09, 2002

NewsIsFree

If you notice that my links column is smaller, it's not because I've stopped reading weblogs. Rather, it's because I'm trying an aggregator service, NewsIsFree, and I've commented out all the weblogs I can get at through the aggregator.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this approach, but I've been reading various people gushing about aggregators for months now, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:30 PM

October 05, 2002

QOTD

Anil Dash doesn't like the Danger Hiptop. A lot. :

[...] you've ruined all the good street marketing that you could've easily gained by winning my favor. I'm a trend-setter, goddammit! I'm an Early Adopter. I'm a Young Literati Hispanic Mix! You need me.

But you can't have me. 'Cause you suck.

Anil Dash

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:31 AM

Aphorism Soup

Another aphorism which we know, alledgedly from Satchel Paige:

Work like you don't need the money,

Love like you've never been hurt,

Dance like nobody's watching.

Jean likes this little bon bon, and I shared with her the masthead of some guy's weblog that I'd run across, which takes off from this saying:

Work like nobody's watching,

Love like you don't need the money,

Dance like you've never been hurt.

We paused for two beats, then cracked up. I like it when somebody finds the absurdity in things...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 AM

Aphorisms

Kelly joined Jean and I this morning, and our conversation took a strange turn. We'd been discussing aphorisms, and I told Kelly one I had heard years ago on M*A*S*H, since I thought it would appeal to her young sense of humor:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice,

Pull down your pants, and slide on the ice.

Sidney Freedman

Kelly wanted me to explain it, so I told her it was an admonition to relax and take time in life to have some fun, be goofy, see the pleasant side of life without working yourself to death. "Like that other old saw, 'stop and smell the roses'."

"Uh huh. That's what the wolf would say to Little Red Riding Hood." Kelly in all seriousness here...

"The wolf would tell Red to stop and smell the roses? Why?"

"'Cause then he could catch up to her and eat her!"

So I sort of gave up trying to explain popular aphorisms for now.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 AM

October 04, 2002

Outage

Agora, the ISP where this weblog resides, was cut off from the 'net by an administrative error for a few days. Hence the inability to reach my pages, and my inability to post. As it happens, I had things to say, but I forget what they were.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:32 AM

September 28, 2002

QOTD

There is a big difference between allowing people to shoot themselves in the foot and going to the trouble of constructing a new weapon whose only purpose is foot shooting

Francis Glassborow

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:38 AM

September 27, 2002

Nyah Nyah! In Your Face!

According to this study, Oregon's populace (ranked 18th) is generally healthier than in the last two states I lived in, Ohio (23rd) and Michigan (28th):

The study is an annual survey of each state's overall health environment based on 17 lifestyle and environmental factors, including the prevalence of smoking, violent-crime rate, unemployment rate, access to health insurance and mortality rate.

Ranked Number One is New Hampshire, but who wants to live there?

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM

September 26, 2002

Geeth

Feelin' kinda Goth today. Black pants, black RSA Security T-shirt ... Oh wait, that's Geek, not Goth.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:59 PM

September 24, 2002

Digital Camera Wars

Wow. Am I impressed. First Canon comes out with the Canon 1Ds, hideously expensive, but an impressive pixel count of 11Mp. Now Kodak is announcing the Kodak DCS-14n. It's still hideously expensive, but half the price of the Canon, and has nearly 14Mp. I'm pretty sure that in about four or five years, I'll be saving for a digicam like this.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 AM

September 23, 2002

Wandering Moon

There is gathering evidence that the third moon I mentioned earlier is in fact "the Apollo 12 S-IVB third stage, which was left in a distant Earth orbit after it was launched on November 14, 1969 and passed the Moon four days later." According to this article, that rocket stage escaped Earth orbit via a 'portal' aligned with the L1 Lagrange point in 1971, and has returned by a similar mechanism.

It now appears likely that the object will escape back into solar orbit in June 2003 after its brief six-orbit visit to our planet. In 30 years time the Earth may once again capture J002E3 for another brief tour around its home planet.

Ain't physics grand?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:30 AM

More Weekend

One more addition: I've been baking Salmon most of the time I've been buying it, and this weekend I was planning on doing the same. But Jean and I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen, titled Salmon Cooked Three Ways. One of the recipes was Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust. Jean doesn't like dill, and Kelly would probably be put off by a crust, so I only adapted the broiling part, which still made for a very tasty preparation. Served with snow peas, home-made salsa and grapes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:24 AM

Weekend Report

Three significant weekend activities this time 'round. First off, Kelly and I went to see Spy Kids 2. Kelly successfully weathered the two scenes with stop-animation skeletons by covering her eyes, and otherwise had a great time.

Secondly, we had an outing to Trader Joe's, a California-based grocery store chain which specializes in 'discount gourmet' foods. Jean picked up some all-natural chicle gum, I bought Kelly some lime tarts, and I got snow peas and California Green Mangoes. These are certainly different from the mangoes I got turned on to in Hawaii (and Mexican mangoes, which are the same). The HiMex variety are juicy to a fault, and resemble peach flesh. The California variety has flesh rather more like an apple in consistency, while retaining that distinctive mango taste.

Finally, Jean and I rented a movie and watched it on Sunday. It was Amelie, recommended by my friend Tom. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it is one of those distinctive French fantasy films that are so typified by Jeunet's work. He also directed City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. All three are excellent films, though Amelie is probably the most accessible. And I was laughing my fool head off at the delightful visuals and wonderful fantasy. Well worth watching.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:15 AM

September 21, 2002

Japan Fest 2002

Last weekend was Japan Fest, at Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store in Beaverton. Jean and Kelly and I all went last Sunday. I held off on mentioning it because I'd taken a bunch of photos, in preparation for a short photography class I'm taking at work in October/November. Since the class requires slides, that's what I got. The vital stats:

Nikon N80 camera body, Sigma 28-200mm f3.5-5.6 Compact Hyperzoom Macro lens, Kodak Ektachrome 100 slide film. All shots were taken on full auto, I think matrix metering. I didn't try to do any shutter or aperture magic, so's I'd have somewhere to improve during the class .

The day was quite cloudy, so a lot of the photos are dark or fuzzy. I scanned them in using a CanoScan FS2720U scanner, at 24 bit color, then cropped out scanner frame errors, and in many cases, the boring parts of the image. Almost all of the images have had 'Auto-level' run on them, and they've all been scaled to fit within a 1024X768 frame. Finally, they were saved as JPEGs to save download time for family and friends. The photo workshop will presumably be looking at the originals.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, here's the gallery!.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:20 PM

September 19, 2002

Turtle Logic

While advocates of LOGO like to cite examples of kindergarten children 'writing' programs themselves, I have been unable to find any references for less-than-trivial designs by less than fourth graders. So I'll save this link, and maybe try it out with Kelly in the next year, fully expecting to postpone it until later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 AM

September 17, 2002

Vroom!

Somehow, I see one of these in my future. Maybe not this year, but the next time my company's stock is high, I'll have to go to iRobot's site and look for their robot vacuum cleaner, Roomba. The combination of geek toy and laziness-enhancement really appeals to me...

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:24 PM

September 16, 2002

Twilight Zone

On the way in to work this morning, I was listening to Morning Edition, and they mentioned the new Twilight Zone. This was used as a segue into their regular feature, Present at the Creation, where they went into the origins of the Rod Serling show. According to Lynn Neary, The Twilight Zone was a vehicle for Rod Serling to perform an end run around network censors and sponsors, using science fiction to examine issues which television executives considered too controversial for mainstream television.

I didn't know much about Serling before this segment. It seems he was a gadfly who had been butting his head against the wall for years trying to make his stories, and been repeatedly cut down. They mention one show he had written just prior to TZ, about a young black man hung in the South. The Man made him change it to a story about an old man hung in the East. In all, they cite some four episodes from the Twilight Zone to illustrate Rod's subversive agenda, showing how he became increasingly bold as the show became more popular.

I don't know if they intended to, but this 'audio essay' was a pretty sharp barb at the current remake. How likely is it, that a production company working for a cable network will want to explore the edges of society? Who is going to be pushing the 'suits' to get a tough story through, or disguising it so it passes under the radar? Probably no one. Instead, this will be rather like the new Outer Limits: polished, modern, but missing the sense of wonder of the original. I'm recording the premiere, but expect nothing special.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

September 15, 2002

More Music Musings

Kottke gets credit for starting this particular search. There, I kept a note!

Gotta check out two particular bands, From Monument to Masses, and Dealership, and an entire genre, Math Rock. Given this definition, I very well might like it:

Take the intricacy and complexity of classic weirdo hard rock bands like Rush and Voivod, then add some of punk's hyperspasmodic schizophrenia, and you'll have a legitimate math rock contender. Math rock bands take pleasure in being erratic and unpredictable, often experimenting with peculiar tempos and jazz-derived rhythms while keeping the rock hard and aggressive all the while. Their lyrics tend to be as cerebral and expertly designed as their songs. These bands are rock's architects of the future, recrafting and reinventing the genre?s tired song structures.

Next, Wesley Felter put me on to Sparta, and after listening to two of their sample tracks on their website Friday night, I think I might have to hunt down their album, Wiretap Scars. The music is that sort of in-your-face, don't-care-if-you're-listening, post-punk slap-your-face aggressive vocalization that I have to really be in the mood for to handle, but when I am, it just hits the spot perfect-like.

Finally, another album I have no idea where I got the link from, Dekkagar, from National Trust,

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:19 PM

September 13, 2002

Musical Rapport

I wrote a short message to Eliot Gelwan asking him whether he liked Wilco, and he was kind enough to write a rather lengthy meditation on his weblog. Here it is. The short answer is that he does like Wilco, but since his tastes are eclectic, I might not like his other listening choices.

Well, I've always listened to music from hither and yon, so I replied via email, quoting here:

Eliot:

Thanks for the detailed response on your weblog. As you may have noticed, I'm a good deal more casual in my writing, using my weblog to communicate mainly to family and friends.

When I ponder whether our tastes are similar, I perhaps overstate the case. What I'm looking for is a 'reading list' of music enjoyed by obviously thoughtful beings. My tastes too are all over the map, and I find that with the loss of Napster, the best way to get exposed is by being a weblog voyeur. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 PM

Shoddy Bookkeeping

I have to start keeping better track of where I get my album leads from. Most of my music recs nowadays come from reading about a group on a weblog. For instance, I know that's how I came across the album I'm listening to right now, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

And after several listenings, I really like it. A lot. But I can't for the life of me remember who recommended it, nor can I track back to the weblog entry that mentioned it. So now I have a perfectly good indicator of someone's tastes being rather like my own, and I can't find the sucker! Duh-err.

Update: Well, this mystery is solved. It turns out that Eliot Gelwan mentions the band in two separate articles on his excellent weblog, Follow Me Here. In neither case does he overtly recommend the album, instead pointing to articles/reviews which rave for the band/album. So I dunno if I can trust his tastes to be close to mine or not...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:49 AM

Relative Coolth

Sometimes I just feel so cool.

The scary part is what's making me feel cool is very geeky software engineering stuff...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 AM

September 12, 2002

Creeping Anime

Coming to you this Saturday, more of that 'special' anime that keeps the field fresh (even though they both go back quite a ways -- Ultraman was on UHF when I was a tyke in the 60's).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:53 PM

September 11, 2002

One Moon, Two Moon, Three Moon, Blue Moon

How did I miss this? Depending on your definition of a moon, we've had two moons for at least 5,000 years, and known about it since 1997. And now, baby makes three. Welcome to the family, J002E2.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:34 AM

September 10, 2002

Digitally Restored In The Rain

I must have this. Yes, it's on my wish list.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:20 PM

Heartsounds

I just took my pulse, sitting in a chair, a half-hour after drinking a caffeinated pop. 63BPM. Over the last few days, I've taken my resting heartrate, i.e. my BPM just after waking. It averages 57 BPM. I was actually surprised by this. I expected it to be higher. I guess trying to lose some weight and be more consistent in my exercise is bringing it down.

Anyway, following the directions on this page, I calculated my aerobic exercise range, using three different formulae:

Being lazy, I didn't want to punch all the numbers into a calculator every few months as my resting pulse changed with exercise, or every year as my HRmax went down. So I wrote a program:


#!/bin/env python


def HRmaxLO(age):

return 220 - age


def HRmaxHI(age):

return 210 - (0.5 * age)


def WorkLO(age):

HRmax = HRmaxLO(age)

return (HRmax*0.6, HRmax*0.9)


def WorkHI(age):

HRmax = HRmaxHI(age)

return (HRmax*0.6, HRmax*0.9)


def Karvonen(age, restingPulse):

targetHR = HRmaxLO(age)

delta = targetHR - restingPulse

Low = (delta * 0.5) + restingPulse

Hi = (delta * 0.85) + restingPulse

return (Low, Hi)


if __name__ == "__main__":

myAge = 45

restingPulse = 57


print "Heart Range, Low Estimate:", WorkLO(myAge)

print "Heart Range, High Estimate:", WorkHI(myAge)

print "Karvonen Range: ", Karvonen(myAge, restingPulse)

You knew I had to turn this into a computer geek thread sometime, didn't you?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:05 AM

Reason vs. The Real World

That this otherwise brilliant company wastes untold bandwidth to deliver a look and feel no one admires says everything you need to know about the entrenched mindset of developers who hold "backward compatibility" in higher esteem than reason, usability, or their own profits.

Jeffrey Zeldman

Zeldman's obviously never had a customer rip him to shreds because he considered migrating his applications off a hardware platform that even the hardware vendor no longer supports. The reason developers hold backwards compatibility in high esteem is quite simple. They'd tick off paying customers. Of course, this is always the dynamic tension between established revenue and innovation.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:36 AM

September 08, 2002

Squaresoft Hard

Those bums at Squaresoft really get my goat. Remember when I quit playing Final Fantasy X because they threw me into a decimating guantlet battle right after fighting a boss monster, with no save allowed in between? Well, that seems to be a trademark of theirs.

I was playing Parasite Eve, another Squaresoft game, for a fair stretch yesterday, saving often to protect my progress. I had gotten nearly all the way through Day Four, saved, and proceeded to meet the boss monster for that level. I fought it, using up most of my 'stiffness' potions in the act, and finally beat it. Did I get to save? No! Instead I had a FMV segue with Eve, moving the story forward, which was okay. But then Eve attacks a jet, and I'm left with the goal of getting off that roof before the jet crashes into it. Did I make it off the roof? By jumping off, when the clock ran out, yeah. Dead. Game Over.

This sequence didn't take me nearly as long as the one which chased me away from FFX, so I'll be working my way through it again, but jeez, guys, what's with the tricky attitude?

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:14 PM

Salsa!

It's funny that we went Mexican today, as yesterday I tried out a recipe for homemade salsa, from my Cook's Illustrated magazine. It turned out to be quick, and very tasty. For my own records, I'm posting it here:

Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about five 1-second pulses, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses.

We bought some tasty chips, and made the salsa. Boy was it ever good! We served it with salmon for lunch yesterday. I had a baked green bell pepper stuffed with tomato on the side. Yum.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:32 PM

Anniversary

Today marks my 18th wedding anniversary with Jean. We took Kelly out to lunch to celebrate, at the local Mexican restaurant, Juan Colorado. For my money this is one of the nicer Mexican restaurants in the area. They have a second-floor balcony which wraps around the restaurant, with a view of the street. We've only eaten there once before, but I can see us going there again.

Later in the month we'll be celebrating our 20th living-together anniversary, which to me is the more important one, since it truly marks the time when I completely committed to Jean. I knew her for several months before that, but I wouldn't have tried to move in unless I was sure I loved her. And as it turns out, these two decades later, I was right.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:22 PM

September 06, 2002

let NYT = Clued_in in article functional

Holy Turing, Batman! This year's ICFP Programming Contest actually received a nod from the New York Times! What is the world coming to?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:21 AM

September 04, 2002

Gotta Find a Way To Check My Referer Logs...

I'm always surprised when I find a link back to my weblog on another site. Today, I was browsing one of my favorites, dangerousmeta!, and saw "kite aerial photography. speechless. go look. via terebi ii." Whoo hoo! I'm on the map! Not that I ever tried to be. It's just the way the web works, sometimes.

So if anybody actually follows that link, don't bother . This site is what another weblog once called E/N, which after much research I found out means 'everything and nothing'. But it's predominantly about me and my family, liberally spiced with my egotistical obsessions, so I don't have to write letters to all my friends and family. Lazy, huh?

Anyway, it's payback time: From Here to Infinity: Obsessing With the Magic of Primes, via dangerousmeta!.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:10 PM

Lard on the Brain

When I first read What if it's All Been a Big Fat Lie?, by Gary Taubes, I was seriously skeptical of his premise. This sort of contrarian writing has an honorable history, but more often than not it is done to promote the author rather than a suppressed truth. Moreover, all the research I had read, most of which had a pretty good pedigree, flatly contradicted him. Still, it appeared in the New York Times, and surely the editors there are careful about telling America to go on a heart-attack diet.

The other shoe has dropped. In Experts Declare Story Low on Saturated Facts, Sally Squires, writing for the Washington Post, goes over Taubes' research, even contacting most of the researchers he interviewed. It turns out that Taubes just doesn't believe the preponderance of evidence. He in fact conveniently quotes various researchers out of context to support his thesis, and calls peer-reviewed research cult science. Any doubt I'd had about the man is evaporating as we speak.

If Sally Squires had not done such a bang up job of following up on Taubes' research, this article would not be so damning, but he really comes out as wrong-headed, based on the studies he rejects, and the people he misquotes. Unless of course Squires is misquoting the 'victims' in a much more egregious manner. But the content of researchers' replies to Squires seem unambiguous: "replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats ... That way," Willett said, "you reduce the bad cholesterol, but don't reduce [the protective] HDL cholesterol at the same time ... And I have gone over this a number of times with Gary, but he barely mentioned it in the article."

Near the end of his article, Taubes says " [fear of potential damage from high-fat diets] is the state of mind I imagine that mainstream nutritionists, researchers and physicians must inevitably take to the fat-versus-carbohydrate controversy. They may come around, but the evidence will have to be exceptionally compelling." Unfortunately, compelling evidence is not good enough for Taubes, either.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:47 PM

September 03, 2002

Fistful of Yen

Another thing to waste the odd moment during long code compiles: Verbal Kung-Fu Generator. This is why Larry Wall invented Perl. Well, not really, but it should be. I just leave the webpage up and check it during idle moments.

This page is updated and refreshed every fifteen minutes or so.

Just wait, and you'll get 500 more names ...

Some favorites from recent generations:

It's also kinda fun to grab a page of items, stick 'em in an Emacs buffer, and sort by different fields. Here's all the 'wheel' attacks from one generation:

Can't wait for lunch, so I can practice my iron chopstick fury!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:29 AM

Well Blow Me Down

I found this on Photo.net, where the photo of the week led me to follow the author's link to his website on Kite Aerial Photography. It is totally cool!

This photograph and most of the others I have posted on Photo.net are taken from kite-lofted cameras. A kite, unseen in the image, supports a small, radio-controlled cradle that holds a Canon Digital Elph. I can position the camera by walking around and/or letting out or retrieving kiteline. I aim the camera and fire its shuttler using the radio while I stay at the ground end of the kiteline. The camera can rotate through the compass, tilt from horizon to nadir, and change from portrait to landscape format.

I compose my images by watching the camera and imagining what it would see. The whole process entertains me to no end.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 AM

Lilo & Stitch

We finally saw Lilo & Stitch over the weekend, all three of us. It's not a timeless Disney classic, but I laughed out loud a few times. If you haven't seen it and are into animated features, it's worth seeing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

For The Record

I measured myself over the holiday weekend, in the morning, just after rising, and in the evening, just before retiring:

That's a 5/8" drop! I'm melting! Seriously, I'd always heard, we shrink during the day, and was curious as to how much. Jean only shrank 1/8". Kelly's evening measurement is still pending.

I am surprised that I'm still 6'2" after all these years. I was 6'2" in high school, and I kind of expected to have lost some height to degraded vertebral disks by now. Guess I quit running soon enough.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:18 AM

August 27, 2002

QOTD

Culled from my ReplayTV, an episode of Andromeda. Becka Valentine is bemoaning the constant soldiering and adventure required to rebuild the Commonwealth, while walking the decks with Rommie:

Becka: Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt.

Rommie: Oh. That explains your wardrobe.

Lava and Rockets

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 AM

Parasite Eve

One other thing I managed to do this weekend was to begin playing Parasite Eve. This is an interesting game, as it is sort of a survival horror game, but it's also a turn-based battle game. Not too surprising, as it is by Squaresoft, the creators of the Final Fantasy franchise. In my first pass, I got my butt kicked by a large crocodile monster, but I've gotten past that now.

I'm sorta stuck in Jak and Daxter, not because the game is too tough, but because of a Catch-22. Kelly won't let me play without her, but she doesn't want to play while we are on the Misty Island stage. I think I've got it figured out: she wants to play when there are lots of platforms, trampolines, boats and cute devices for collecting Precursor Eggs, but she doesn't want to fight ugly monsters. Previous stages have had a lot of the former and few of the latter. Now we're on Misty Island, a 'spooky' stage, and there's lots of creeps to confront. So she doesn't want to play.

Until I convince her to let me 'play through' the Misty Island stage and get her in on the game again, I've gone back to my familiar haunt of survival horror games. This time it's with a twist, so the minor burnout I was experiencing after Resident Evil and Silent Hill doesn't apply. In fact, I'm looking forward to squeezing in a half hour or so tonight after puttin' the womenfolk to bed.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:09 AM

Sunday

I spent Sunday morning doing my chores and exercising while Jean and Kelly were at the mall shopping for clothes for this Fall. I should take some snapshots and put them up. Kelly is looking very grown up. She's starting to wear pants, as opposed to shorts, skirts and culottes. The first pants experiment was a failure, since Kelly decided after purchasing that they 'itched'. The latest ones seem comfortable enough for her delicate skin.

Sunday afternoon, Jean and I left Kelly upstairs with her Gameboy playing Pokemon Crystal, while we adjourned downstairs to watch Gosford Park. At the time it was in theatres it was being promoted as a British murder mystery, ala Agatha Christie's tea cozy mysteries. But this is entirely beside the point. The murder is just the hatrack on which to hang all the characters' foibles. This is a marvelous example of a Robert Altman movie, with constant business in every corner. How accurate the portrayal of 'Upstairs, Downstairs' life in mannered England I must leave to someone else. But taken alone, it is consistent and fascinating. I'm very glad that Jean and I are having a chance to watch movies together again.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 AM

Saturday

Saturday was typical, chores chewing into most of the day. It was a NOVA weekend, so I had some joy. The new projector was unveiled and it was marvelous! Very crisp, adjustable image. Alan was creeping about on the floor testing a supplemental sound system, which worked pretty well when the source material was good enough.

We held initial nominations for the officers of the club, as elections are next meeting. I think the whole projector fundraising experience has heightened everyones' esprit de corp, because there were several nominees for each office. That usually doesn't happen without a lot of cajoling.

Someone, I think the young lad named Peter, blurted out my name for Secretary/Treasurer, though I don't think he was even sure who I was. Somebody seconded it, so I agreed to run, pretty certain that other candidates would spare me the task. If I do win, I think it should be straightforward, except for the need to clear a time slot to travel to the bank with membership monies. Fortunately, most memberships nowadays are paid with donations to the archive. Also fortunately, Kelly is getting old enough, that I can just haul her along on banking trips. We'll see.

After NOVA we slogged off to the theatre to see xXx. It's a nice recasting of the usual James Bond shtick, with a bit of attention to Goth, electronica, Kraut Rock and raves, and a lot of attention to extreme sports and major hardware, it leverages off of Vin Diesel's growing success as a 'young' (he's 35 years old, but they have him bantering like a teen skateboard rebel) anti-hero action star. Fun but definitely light.

Funny, while looking up his age, I found out he did the voice of the robot in Iron Giant. Seems more like a job for Frank Welker. Frank Welker, ladies and gentlemen! The busiest man in animation voice acting!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:01 AM

August 26, 2002

QOTD II

And so David Bowie spent the mid-Seventies gadding about L.A. like a blond coat hanger with a dead rock star hanging on it.

Rock's 50 Greatest Meltdowns - Rolling Stone

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:48 PM

QOTD

Geez, just after posting a probing article about my lazy eating habits, here comes a quote from a practicing phychiatrist and weblogger, Eliot Gelwan:

If change were easy, it would be easy. There would be no grace or art to therapy if there were not a universal human tendency to avoid changing.

And no, I'm not implying that I need therapy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:23 PM

Thinking and Eating

Since I am by habit a pathetic junkfood junky, and I'm trying to lower my body fat percentage, I've got to actually wake up now and then and ask the question: what am I eating? As I think I've mentioned, I topped out at around 230 pounds. That's what I weighed about six months ago, but I hadn't weighed myself recently because the only scale I had was at the gym at work, and since we got the Bikler, I've been doing most of my workouts at home.

Then the Bikler broke (newsflash: we're supposed to get our replacement today!) and I started hitting the gym at work again. The good news was that I was down about fifteen pounds, to 215. The lesser news was that I had no idea if this had been a steady decline over the six months, or happened in one fell swoop anytime in that interval. In other words, I had no idea if anything I was doing now was contributing. Hence the desire for a scale at home.

Then there's the issue of body fat percentage. I can actually slow down on weight loss as my body adds muscle mass, but given that I'm not an ascetic in my diet, I may slide and add fat again. Hence the addition of a body fat monitor scale to my repetoire. And while it's only been what, twelve days, since I got the scale, the body fat percentage seems distressingly stable.

So I've reached a 'setpoint' in my exercise and eating habits, and need to look over the 'budget' to see where some more fat can be 'trimmed'. And I know the most obvious place. Two evenings a week I stay at work late studying for my betterment as a programmer. I usually run down to Burger King and grab a medium shake and onion rings, which I eat with a veggie burger I pack in from home. I've already decided to drop the onion rings, but I'm weaning myself here, okay? So the medium shake stays for a few more weeks.

But just so I'm not fooling myself, here are the fat percentages for the BK medium shake and it's comparable competitors:

Can that be right? A Burker King shake has less than half the grams of fat that a McDonald's shake has? If so, I chose the right horse. That's the quantity listed on their website. If instead you take the trouble to download their PDF of nutritional info, then the number is the heftier 42 grams. What the? It's hard enough getting reliable nutritional data for fast food online. But when the corp contradicts itself, I don't know what to do. I guess I'll just have to keep digging, and in the meantime assume the worst.

Interestingly, the McDonald's PDF agrees with their online info. Woe is me... The local BK is twice as far from work as the local McD's, but I always found their shakes tasted better. Now I suspect I know why.

I should probably keep the onion rings (16 grams fat) and ditch the shake. Still, that Frosty looks mighty tempting, and checking listings, there's one even closer than BK...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:47 PM

August 21, 2002

Picnic

Forgot to mention that Sunday was the company picnic. One of the attractions this year was balloon 'rides'. I use the quotes because they were tethered. There's no other way they could give everybody a chance if they took them up in free flight, and drove them back to the loading area each time.

Prior to the picnic, Jean was fretting that I intended to go up, because she knew that Kelly would want to go to. "Kelly could fall out and die!" I assured her that everything would be safe as houses, and left it at that. Come Sunday, we arrived at work, and they were inflating the balloons. Kelly said "I wanna do that!" Jean shuddered.

The final story is that the balloons were indeed tethered, and they took them up about twenty feet, for about a minute a time. The basket was so large that when Kelly stood in one of the foot slots of the basket, she could just get her head over the basket to look out. Jean was relieved, I was amused, Kelly was happy...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 AM

August 20, 2002

Dental Art of Self Defense

Here's a guy named Leon's hilarious review of the Teledyne Water Pik, pointed out by Pascale Soleil, on her weblog, both2and: beyond binary. Thanks Pascale, I needed that!

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:32 PM

Litigious Losers

Just because I've been seeing alot of this sort of activity in the tech arena lately, including the related 'crime' of patent abuse, I thought I'd link in the definition of barratry. I'm pretty sure that Cicero talks about these lowlife sorts ruining the legal system in Rome, but I couldn't find a reference. Anyone?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:51 AM

August 19, 2002

New Glass

I took delivery today of a Sigma 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Yes, photo purists, it is a zoom, and it is not a Nikkor. This is just a lens intended for all-purpose travel photography, mainly for my trip to Anime Expo 2003 next summer. Even so, I expect I'll use it for other mundane purposes, like the next Bridgeport School Recital. I drew chauffeur duty this afternoon as Jean had a test, so I drove Kelly to her swim class, and took a few pictures with the new lens. If any of them turn out okay, I'll scan 'em in and post them here.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 PM

Quick Popcorn

One of the books I scanned (from the library) was Alton Brown's I'm Just Here For The Food. There's a big emphasis on meat, and as I don't do much in the way of meat dishes, it wasn't really a book I'd purchase. So back to the library it went.

However, I glommed his recipe for microwave popcorn. You gotta experiment, let me tell you. The basic recipe goes like this:

Put 1/3 cup of ordinary popping corn into a paper sack, staple shut with two staples. Place into microwave on high for 8-10 minutes or when the pops are at least five seconds apart. Remove from microwave, open bag carefully and apply whatever fixin's you want.

He swears up and down that if you use plain popcorn without oil in the bag, you can't burn the popcorn. Wrong! He says he tried this recipe in six different microwaves, but apparently not ours. Our house still smells of burnt popcorn. The second try I got it right. It turns out there are a few variables, most important of which are your microwave (power, capacity) and the lunch sack you use (1/3 cup of popping corn was too much for the sacks I bought). So I modified the recipe to use 1/4 cup of popping corn, and ran the microwave about 2:15. The corn all popped, none burned, and there was no fat except what I added (butter for Kelly, olive oil for Jean, none for me, thanks). We don't have popcorn salt, so table salt sufficed.

I wornder if Nero Wolfe ever rhapsodized about popcorn?

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:01 PM

August 15, 2002

Is This Book Void?

Gosh, I seem to be running through a number of disappointing books. Each has an interesting premise, the presentation (or marketing if you will) of the book is tantalizing, and when I dig in and read, I'm either disappointed or annoyed. Case in point:

Patterns In The Void: Why Nothing Is Important by Sten Odenwald. I was hoping for a discussion of all the things which a 'vacuum' actually contains, from dimensionality to virtual particles. And it looks like he will cover all that as the book progresses. But the first chapter bodes ill for the rest of the book, as he spends inordinate amounts of time soliloquizing over how we fear the dark, how the Incas had constellations which were outlined by the dark spaces in the Milky Way, and how we might transform our fear of the void by understanding how powerful and lively it is.

The science books I've enjoyed have generally been written by authors who recognized that philosophy can, if you`re not careful, dilute the point of science. Pondering, pontificating, telling us why we are all afraid of the dark, just distracts from the interesting stuff. Only a very skillful writer can mix philosophy and science. I'm not ready to put the book down yet, but reading that first chapter definitely gave me a sinking feeling.

As an aside, I commented to Jean this morning that the author had a gloomy outlook because he is Scandinavian, in keeping with my running joke about being Finnish and entitled to dour moods...

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:05 PM

August 14, 2002

An Unnatural History of Objects

Yesterday after work I drove Kelly to the YMCA for her swim class. I took along a library book, The Evolution of Useful Things, by Henry Petroski. I basically scanned the whole book in the space of, say, forty minutes. It had many interesting tidbits, but suffered from being far too complete. Petroski has the habit of worrying a topic to death, covering every interesting and uninteresting detail until there is no life in the animal at all.

This is in contrast to Donald Norman's Things That Make Us Smart, on similar topics. I read this years ago and was fascinated, especially with his mindset. He was the first writer I'd been exposed to who would frame a pencil and paper as 'cognitive multipliers'. By contrast, Petroski's book could have benefitted by being edited by Cecil Adams.

So it goes back to the library this weekend. Heaven help me if I'd tried to read his other 'engineering of everyday things' book, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance. Two or three hundred pages about pencils. Imagine.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:09 PM

Jelly Roll Wakefield

I ended up purchasing a Tanita TBF-622 Body Fat Monitor/Scale combo at Fry's yesterday. They wanted $20 less than the web site, which is why I shifted my model choice. I've fiddled with it since, both alarming and amusing myself.

First the alarm. I'm nearly 1/4 fat! Gotta keep grinding that down. The scary thing is, I know that I was carrying even more lard six months ago. 30%? 33.33333333......???

The amusing thing is that I weighed myself just before bed, and just after rising. Bed: 217.5 lb. Rising: 212.5 lb. Between trips to the restroom and respiration, I shed five pounds. Pity that's gonna map as a sine wave, rather than a monotonically decreasing function.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:54 PM

Contrarian

Okay, I'm pretty sure I don't have Summer Affective Disorder, but I still look forward to the return of overcast days, and yes, rain, this fall.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:12 AM

August 12, 2002

Life Imitates Nero

Yesterday afternoon I decided that I wanted to do something fun, so I suggested that we go to Nature's Fresh Northwest to get a treat. Jean, Kelly and I piled into the car, each with a budget of $5 to buy whatever took our fancies. I was like a kid in a candy store, wandering from section to section. Eventually we all settled on our choices:

What inspired me to get the corn was a recent viewing of a Nero Wolfe television episode, Murder Is Corny, in which Nero Wolfe extolls the virtue of roasted corn on the cob. Of course, he requires that his corn be picked hours before consumption, and has other culinary restrictions, but I figured it would be fun to try oven roasting anyway.

A quick search of the web revealed a recipe, if you can call it that, since it's so simple. My verdict: this is the only way I'll prepare corn on the cob in the future. It tastes so much better than boiling. Jean tasted it and agreed. "It's moister," she noted.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:11 PM

Game Discovery

It turns out that having Kelly play Jak and Daxter with me adds value. Her playing style is by turns novel and frustrating. When she gets stuck, in a non-threatening situation, i.e. no monster lurking or approaching, she will just fiddle with the controller, rather than giving me a turn. I'm treated to endless loops of Jak charging walls with his head. Sometimes he pogos, sometimes he runs in tight little circles. I eventually took to carrying a book downstairs for our gaming sessions, since I was bordering on making irritated comments.

Recently I noticed that she was making Jak do somersaults, something which isn't documented in the instructions, or mentioned in the game. I asked her how she did it, and she didn't know. Eventually I caught what she did, watching while it happened. Once she knew, she added this move to her fiddle repetoire. I had been stuck in one area, unable to make the leap from one pillar to another. So she tried somersault/jumping, and succeeded where I had failed repeatedly. Now we know that this is the way to leap across most pillars. Score one for Kelly!

Now if I could just get her to stop setting me up for a beating. She never wants to fight monsters, but too often, she'll wait until they are nearly on top of her, then throw the controller at me, forcing me to take vital seconds just getting my hands on the controller buttons (and often toggling off zoom or some other obscuring mode she has triggered accidentally while flinging the controller at me). By the time I'm ready, I've already gotten slapped a couple of times. Oog!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:57 PM

Coraline

I got another book from the library with the intention of reading it with Kelly. We sat down Sunday afternoon and started working on it, and to my surprise, we've already covered fifty pages (out of 176 pages total). I wasn't sure Kelly would want to read it, since it is a 'scary' book. The book is called Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. I've read a few of his other works, including Good Omens (which he wrote with one of my favorite humorous writers, Terry Pratchett), and his graphic novels about that demi-god, the Sandman. He likes to write stories where the characters are not 'safe', and reality always has a slight bend.

Coraline has just moved to a big house with her parents. The house is divided into apartments, and the other tenants are strange. Her apartment has 21 windows and 14 doors. But one door opens onto a brick wall, because the house has been divided into apartments. One day Coraline is exploring and discovers that the door now opens onto an apartment exactly like her own. Well, not exactly. In this apartment live her 'other' parents, whose white skin and button eyes don't seem all that scary. They want her to come live with them, "for ever and ever." From here things take a turn for the worse, and Coraline struggles to save her parents and three children trapped in a mirror in the 'other' apartment.

It's just creepy enough that I wasn't sure Kelly would be up for it, but it's not Grimm's Fairytales, so no gore. We're planning on doing a chapter a night, which should see us through the book in a week or ten days from now. I'll report on Kelly's impressions when we're done.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 AM

Book Finished

I finally finished When Things Start To Think by Neil Gershenfeld. I had begun to think i wouldn't, since it is one of those aggressive visionary books outstripped by the future. The middle chapters are hobbled by the fact that he spends time talking about virtual money and the 'New Economy'. Apparently Yahoo! was valued at more than GM and (some other large physical product company) combined. There are a couple of other gaffes like that in the middle of the book, but by the latter third, he is back into comfortably unknown territory .

Whether any of the ideas he discusses comes to fruition or not, this is a neat what-if book. The chapter on quantum computing at least finally helped me to understand how people (NSA folks especially) hope to perform computing using quantum effects. I'd have a hard time explaining it, but I grasp the general notions now. For a better explanation than I can give, I'll just point people to this book!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:23 AM

August 09, 2002

Good Pounds, Bad Pounds

As I'm trying to lose weight, I want to keep in mind that what I'm really trying to lose is fat. I don't strength train enough for muscle bulk to confuse the issue, but I'm still interested in my body fat percentage. I'm too lazy to ask my doctor to set up some caliper measurement or water-displacement test, so I did a search for body fat monitors and found one I want to keep track of. Hence, this entry, to log the link to Tanita Body Fat Scales.

After looking over the models on their site, I'd say the BF 625 seems good enough. Kinda steep price, but in the range of other products that include body fat measurements. If I just wanted weight, approximated only, I could buy a scale at Fred Meyers for $14. But I'm a tech geek, right?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:30 AM

Whose Game Is It, Anyway?

I mentioned Wednesday that Kelly has told me she doesn't want me to play Jak and Daxter without her. The other night I had another exposure to this attitude. Let me set the stage...

Jak and Daxter, like most platform games (3D or otherwise), separates play into multiple stages or worlds. J&D tries harder than others to seamlessly integrate these stages, and in fact you can see one stage from another in many locations. The link above describes the authors' attempts to sustain this illusion. Within each of these stages, you can save one of two ways: directly, by invoking an options menu and choosing 'save game', and automatically, whenever Jak recovers a 'power cell'. If you quit the game then, you can start up from your last save.

However, starting from a set of saved data doesn't start you up in exactly the same location, just in some standard location for that stage. There appear to be multiple 'launch points' within a stage, but they don't necessarily overlap the location where you saved. And herein lies the rub, as I am sure you can anticipate.

I went downstairs and fired up the PS2 while Kelly was brushing her teeth. No waiting to play the game when she was ready, you see. When she came down, there was Jak, Daxter on his shoulder, bouncing idly and waiting to find those Precursor Orbs. Kelly took one look at him and said "Dad, have you been playing without me?"

"No," I replied. "What makes you think that?"

"He's not where we left him last night. Are you sure you haven't been playing without me?"

So I had to explain game mechanics to her, and we established that he didn't have more Orbs, Flys or Power Cells than when we quit the night before. But sheesh! I bought this game to give myself a break from RPG/Survival Horror games, and now I can't play the darn thing outside of Kelly's schedule! TANJ!*

* There Ain't No Justice

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:16 AM

August 08, 2002

Pretentious Reviews

I remember reading the essay by B. R. Meyers when it came out in the Atlantic. My main impression was 'strident'. Sure, many modern novels are overwrought, but I like Cormac McCarthy's dense prose. I actually got a shiver reading the final passage of Suttree. In fact I think I drove Jean crazy with my constant demands that she listen to the various passages I was drooling over. So now Meyers is coming out with a book length version of his essay, the better to tell us what is okay to read, I suppose.

The folks on Metafilter speculated on where Raymond Chandler would stand in Meyers' pantheon, and one came up with the perfect response:

Raymond Chandler doesn't need a defense, see? He's always had the iron to get the job done; and every nancy critic with a typer in town can go suck dum-dums.

Strictly speaking, it doesn't sound anything like Chandler, but it was still a hoot.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:34 PM

Mein Kampf

I'd been thinking about my struggles with weight control over the years when what should I see, but a very public discussion of same on Cameron Barrett's weblog (Wednesday, August 7th, 'Diet and Exercise'). As I've been trying to shed the pounds again after a steady slide, I decided to 'share pain' with him. Here's my note to Cam...

Cam:

I was interested by your approach to weight loss. I've always had a bit of a spare tire, though it's size has varied most of my life. I'm curious as to why eating more fruits and/or vegetables 'can be difficult'. Given that they have fiber and phytochemicals not generally found in vitamins, it's better not to treat vitamins as a substitute. True, when you're young, your body can get away with a lot of abuse, but take it from this 45 year old that the abuse adds up.

A few years ago I had a lot of success following the advice in this

book:

Dr. Bob Arnot's Revolutionary Weight Control Program

Yeah, I know, TV personality, all that. And the book does have it's flaws. He seems to think you have unlimited funds to buy those rollerblades, and can take off from work for an hour at lunch to go exercise. But the chapters on the effects of food on your brain and body are real eye openers.

When I was following the 'lifestyle' in the book, I got my weight down to 190 lbs. (I'm 6' 2" tall, stocky). Over the years, that crept up on me again, especially after I *really* messed up my ankle and had to stop running. I kept exercising regularly (still do, using an elliptical trainer and a Bowflex), but the intensity doesn't match running 45 minutes a day.

About six months ago, I topped out at 230 lbs. When I started developing sleep apnea, I decided it was time to get serious about weight loss again. It's tough, I've gotten lazy about buying food at the company cafeteria, or going out to lunch with friends. So I'm trimming that, eating more like I did a few years ago. I haven't increased my exercise schedule, but I'm losing weight again. Yesterday, I weighed 216 lbs.

So it's doable. You know all the old saws ("you didn't gain the weight overnight, don't expect to lose it overnight"), so I won't belabor that. I'm just writing to encourage you and say good luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

August 07, 2002

Chained

Well, it's official. Kelly informed me last night that I am not allowed to play Jak and Daxter without her .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:10 AM

August 06, 2002

Hit

A more satisfying recommendation from Viridian Notes is When Things Start To Think. I'm actually gonna finish this one. It's coming right on the heels of Emergence, so that'll make two tech/society books in a row, though from different angles.

Neil Gershenfeld gets to play at the MIT Media Lab, and as a result gets to think about how technology works, and how it doesn't. Most importantly, he gets to think about why it should work when it doesn't. Up to this point I've read the chapter about electronic ink, where he posits that 'electronic books' will only overtake paper books when they become better than paper. Not a clunky computer, but a sheet of paper which can be taken anywhere, and can change it's contents on demand. I already knew about this technology, but his philosophical take is interesting as well.

The other chapter I've finished describes his experiments in creating advanced computer instruments in collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma. This is actually a very interesting chapter, further expounding on the goal of only using computers when they can do a better job than the original physical artifact. He notes that Ma and other musicians are not sentimental about instruments, do not rail against technology, and get quite excited by what his computers enable them to do. But in the end, Ma elects to continue using his Stradivarius cello, since it fits in a single case, is ready to use immediately, and requires no power. This in opposition to the several cases of equipment that Gershenfeld requires for his supercomputer equipment, the minutes it takes to boot things, and the power cables trailing off stage. But Gershenfeld speculates that by the time the book is published, he will be most of the way toward fulfilling Ma's requirements.

So I'm not done, but I'm committed. I'll keep posting info as I dive deeper into the book.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:10 PM

Miss

Bruce Sterling's website, Viridian Notes has a list of books recommended by members of his mailing list. A few of them, on the face of it, seemed interesting, so I reserved the ones I could from the library. I just finished scanning one, and I'm disappointed.

Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic {The Aesthetics of Consumerism}, by Daniel Harris, held some promise, on the title alone. But it turns out the guy just rubs me the wrong way. I admit to enjoying writing a snide essay now and then, but this book is one long snide diatribe. As an example, he treats the notion of 'quaint' by giving his views of the Society for Creative Anachronism. They are unflattering, but they are also unfair:

If historians seek to know the past intellectually, those who revel in that most ahistorical of aesthetics, quaintness, seek to know it sensually, not through knowledge but through atmosphere, stripping it of facts and mining it for sensations. Quaintness focuses squarely on the physicality of Olden Times, on their creature comforts, and is therefore set more often in the nineteenth century than the Middle ages, which bring to mind cold flagstone floors and drafty, smoke-filled dining halls draped with mildewed tapestries, whereas the nineteenth century conjures up images of toasty Christmas interiors, brisk sleigh rides and cups of piping hot cocoa.

Sure, read the SCA homepage, and you get the full-blown rhetoric of "researching and re-creating pre-17th-century European history." But talk to people who actually partake of their activities, and you see it's a lot more varied and complex than that. Friends I knew who were in the SCA were avid hobbyists. They knew the era SCA dwelt in, but when they participated in events, it was recreation in the restorative sense, not the historical one. They knew this. None of them was dumb enough to think that the Middle ages was a picnic. Conversely, their SCA outings were just that, and they knew it. So Harris basically takes the marketing pamphlet and has a field day with it.

This book reminds me of the time I was reading The Socratic Dialogues lo these many years ago. I found myself becoming ever more irritated the further I got into the book. Finally I asked my wife, "how come these guys never ask him any smart questions?" In other words, it's easy to make the other guy look like a rube when you are the one putting words into his mouth.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:53 PM

August 05, 2002

Bloodlines

At Saturday's NOVA meeting we got to talking about members we haven't seen in awhile, including Jeff Milburn, the founder of the club. Whatever happened to him? I know I ran into him in the airport for about five seconds a couple of years ago, and I know an email address he used to use is still 'attached' to the NOVA mailing list, but that's about it.

Seque to work, in what at first seems a non sequitur. I keep running into a guy in the elevators who thinks he knows me from somewhere. Every time I see him he asks, "did you used to work at Tektronix?", or some such question. I always answer no. And if he was ever familiar to me in any other context, these repeated elevator meetings have overwhelmed that. So this evening I run into him, and he appears about to speak. I get ready to say "no", when he says, "did you ever go to an anime club around here?"

I said, "yeah, a club called NOVA."

He said, "I knew I'd seen you somewhere before. I'm Jeff Milburn's brother!"

Well, we didn't talk a lot, as we were both heading to our cars, but Jeff is now a product manager at Intel, and has a house in Hillsboro with his wife and two sons. I'm sure I will get more info on the next elevator collision...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:26 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2002

Sunday Movie

Jean and I have begun to set aside a regular time for watching movies together. Last week we watched Chocolat (hey look, they mis-spelled Chocolate! Tee hee!). This week it was A Beautiful Mind. And of course the genesis of this budding tradition (or revived tradition, thinking back to our pre-child life) was the recent viewing of A Taxing Woman.

I don't want to write full-blown reviews of each of these, so I'll just give capsule impressions. Of course I'd seen A Taxing Woman before, about a year after it's release. I liked it quite a lot then, and it led to my tracking down three other movies by Juzo Itami, The Funeral, Tampopo and A Taxing Woman Returns. I was saddened to learn that he died in 1997.

Chocolat is Magical Realism Lite. It was charming, feel-good, and funny, but felt like somebody had watched about fifty European movies and wanted to do one of their own, after reading the complete works of Jorge Luis Borges. I don't mean to come across too harshly, the movie is definitely worth watching. It just has a bit of a flavor of 'watch me, watch me!' to it.

Watching A Beautiful Mind I felt that Russell Crowe gave a fine performance as a mentally ill geek. Watching the film's handling of schizophrenia made me feel more certain that Philip K. Dick, a favorite author of mine from way back, probably suffered from something like this. His stories are all concerned with both what makes reality real and what makes us human. This movie is touching and human in a classic manner. Definitely worth seeing.

So that's the list of most recent movies worth mentioning. I recently saw Austin Powers in Goldmember, and can summarize it with: better than two, not as good as one. Most other movies I've seen recently were not worth mentioning here. That's it, gotta put the kids to bed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:30 PM

Saturday Movie

After NOVA yesterday, we went to see Signs. If you are willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief, it is a suspenseful and entertaining film. I was quite pleased at the level of humor mixed in with the creepiness. The final five or ten minutes left me feeling cheated though. WARNING: Spoilers in the next paragraph!

It seems to me that Shyamalan's never read any science fiction. At least, not in the Golden Age. And he seems to have little knowledge of comic book cliches, for somebody who did a critical reinvention of the comic book superhero. [Okay, spoilers ahoy!]

So aliens come to Earth in vessels which can hover in place, erect invisible shields, silently construct crop circles, and so on. The individual aliens can outrace an athelete, jump ten feet to the top of a roof, and have spurs which emit poisonous gas. Yet when they finally choose to engage, they attack hand-to-hand, and are defeated by water? What kind of incompetent boobs are they anyway? Can't they wear raincoats when they attack?

Then it occurred to me. This was not an alien invasion at all. It was hunting season. Earth supplies an animal which can potentially put up a rather challenging struggle. The Intergalactic Gaming Commission sets the rules. You may only hunt on Earth once every XXXX years. You may not take advanced weaponry. You must stay within XX miles of the preserve markers (signs). You may not wear flak suits. Sorry buddy, that's the challenge. It's a water world, the inhabitants are 80% water, and you just happen to have a severe allergy to molecular water. Cry me a river. Do you want the permit or not?

So there you go. The only logical explanation for the aliens' incompetent approach to invading Earth, and why they conveniently bailed after one night of actual aggression. They weren't actually 'defeated' by the 'primitive defense'. The hunting season was just one night. Everything leading up to it was just the tailgate party!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:59 PM

August 02, 2002

Silent Hill Finally Silenced

While waiting for Godot, er, the repair man, I fired up the PSOne and played Silent Hill. And I finished it! Overall rating: A-. I'd give it an A, but I'm still steamed at that arbitrary item I was supposed to divine that I'd need to get the good+ ending. But all told, it was a lot of fun, and made for a good little interactive horror-show!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:38 PM

No Bikeler

I took the morning off to meet the Bikeler repair guy. Oh, that's right, I forgot to mention that the darn thing's been out of order. It had a wretched squeak, which we took to mean equipment failure, and a call to the service number confirmed it. We've had to wait several weeks for back-ordered parts, but they all arrived and the repair man came today.

Long and short is that the parts won't help. There was a weld failure. Continued use will snap the axle so we're back to waiting. On the plus side, Nordictrack intends to replace the entire unit, no charge. In the meantime, I'll continue using my genuine bike to get exercise. Good thing this happened during the summer. I'm paranoid about riding it when the roads are wet.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:16 PM

July 31, 2002

More Game Geeking

I'm in the final stages of Silent Hill, which in my case probably means weeks of play yet. But I'm starting to burn out a little on linear RPGs, so I decided to use some of my allowance this payday to buy a platform game. My choice: Jak and Daxter. True to my form, I started without reading any directions. And true to her form, Kelly came creeping downstairs to interrupt my gameplay.

I think there's a rule that she needs to play my characters until they are dead or in dire straits. This time, she was running around until she encountered a spiked pit, then handing me the controller. In this case, I'd just turn around and do something else, and in minutes she was demanding the controller again. Go figger.

One note about Silent Hill: I got stuck once and consulted GameFAQs. In the walkthrough I consulted, they explained that the game had four endings, good+, good, bad+ and bad. In order to get a good+ ending, you have to do certain things right. Unfortunately, they don't all make any sort of sense. I'm shut out of the good+ ending because I failed to collect a puddle of spilled red liquid early in the game! I could go back (having kept a steady stream of saves), but I'm unwilling to play through all the intervening action to get back to where I am. Boy is that irritating. You'd think these people would try to make the game playable and fun. It isn't 'challenging' if the goals are arbitrary. So instead of getting an A+, the game designers will be getting a B- at best...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:46 PM

Fly Me

Criminy, how could I have missed this all these years? TM advocates claim that it's actually possible to levitate once sufficiently advanced in one's meditation. Reading one page on the topic, I noticed that it was not until the bottom of the page that Yogic Flying was explained:

The physical manifestations of the "Yogic Flying" vary with the practitioner. The Yoga Sutras of Mahrishi Patanjali describes three stages of immediately visible results. Stage One is generally associated with what would best be described as "hopping like a frog." Stage Two is flying through the air for a short time. Stage Three is complete mastery of the sky. The above photo and all "Yogic Flying" demonstrations to date depict Stage One results.

[emphasis mine]

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:20 PM

Control the Presses, Control the Market

This extremely well-reasoned article covers the ground I already have travelled. The recording industry (not their indentured artists) has the unstated but actual motive of continuing to control the means of distribution. It's not about piracy, but control.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:28 AM

Pirate's Web Site Attacked

That's right, the criminal organization known as 'the RIAA' had it's website subjected to a Denial of Service Attack in response to legislation their puppet Howard Berman introduced which would allow them to attack your computer. Look for more of this just retribution in the future. Serves them right, the crooks!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:58 AM

July 29, 2002

Frivolous Purchase Horizons

Now I begin the debate. Do I purchase the DVD of Master of the Flying Guillotine when it comes out in September, or be content with having seen it at the Clinton Street Theater with my friends? I'd probably watch it once or twice myself, but the value comes in letting others see it. It's cornball fun, but most people don't have the stomach for old chopsocky flix. Dilemmas, dilemmas...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:51 AM

July 28, 2002

Dinosaur Pops

We drove down to Fry's today to buy Kelly a bit of computer software. On the way down, I swear I don't remember why, we began talking about cryogenics. I got my definitions a little garbled, in that I didn't remember that cryonics was the word specifically describing freezing people with the goal of later resuscitation. But the essentials were correct, and I got across the current state of the art and why we don't know if it is possible to resuscitate a frozen person (for legal/ethical reasons, all persons frozen to date have been legally dead already, so even if we thawed them out without 'freezer burn', they would still be dead).

Kelly got the idea and contributed: "It's too bad we didn't freeze the dinosaurs, so now there could be little baby dinosaurs for pets."

"Yes," I added, "it's too bad we didn't have cryonics labs back then. But if we did have dinosaurs for pets, what would we do when they grew up?"

"We'd send them away."

"Send them where? I can see you having a little baby T. Rex gnawing at your thumb, but when it got bigger..."

"I don't know. But wouldn't baby dinosaurs be cute?"

"I guess we could give them to the zoo," I offered, giving Kelly an out. "Uh huh. That's a good idea!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:36 PM

Capsule Review

Steven Johnson relates, around page 141 of Emergence, his own exposure to bio-feedback training, where he learns that his adrenaline levels hover at the middle range unless he makes a joke, when they spike: "But I'd learned something nonetheless: that without consciously realizing it, I'd already established a simple feedback circuit for myself years ago, when my body had learned that it could give itself a targeted adrenaline rush by making a passing joke in conversion."

Curiously enough, this follows the only joke I've encountered so far, on page 140: "Without that negative feedback pulling our circadian rhythms back into sync, we'd find ourselves sleeping through the day for two weeks out of every month. In other words, without that feedback mechanism, it would be as though the entire human race were permanently trapped in sophomore year of college."

Relax, the rest of the book is much better than that. I've now reached page 162, and I know I'll finish the book. He talks about a lot of stuff I already knew, but I was engrossed by his theory that Clinton's troubles with Monica Lewinsky might never have happened were it not for an attempt to garner affiliates by CNN several years before. I won't go into it, read the book to find out. It's a great anecdote, whether it accurately reflects the causes, and gives a neat illustration of feedback cycles.

Now I've got to go tell some jokes while hooked up to a biofeedback rig...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:21 PM

July 27, 2002

Weird Science

Today Jean introduced Kelly to the concept of the 'blind taste test', and thereby to the notion of double-blind testing. We'll make a scientist of her yet.

Here's what happened. A while ago Jean asked me what pop I wanted from the store and I said Pepsi (this was while we were travelling, and the given store had a limited selection, basically Coke and Pepsi). She pursued the issue and I declared that Pepsi was 'okay' and that Coke verily 'sucked'. Of course she called me on this opinion, and I declared that I could tell the difference every time, blindfolded in fact.

So here we are. Jean decided to expand the test (no fair!) to five colas, two flavored, as they were the ones handy in 20 oz. bottles at our local grocery store. The brands in question were:

Note the addition of two fruit-flavored colas, further straying from the original claim I made... Anyway, Jean tested Kelly and I, then I replicated the test method with Jean. The test was to place five identical cups with one ice cube and some beverage onto a table. Each cup was labelled with a letter of the alphabet. The cups were filled by random drawings of slips of paper with the name of the soda, to remove bias. Finally a large tumbler of water was available to 'cleanse the palate' between samples.

We each sat down and ran through the samples, writing down our impressions and eventually ranking each beverage. I'll present the results, then expand with a few more comments:

Phin


Flavor

Comments

1

Shasta Cola

Astringent, but not in a bad way.

2

Vanilla Coke

Vanilla? Lemon? Some sort of esther.

3

Pepsi

Okay.

4

Classic Coke

Simple, no extra accents.

5

Pepsi Twist

Nah.

Kelly


Flavor

Comments

1

Pepsi Twist

Smooth with orange, banana, a twist. Had a little

apple. Exquisite!

2

Vanilla Coke

Orangy and lemon.

3

Classic Coke

One flavor, like regular Pepsi.

4

Pepsi

Tastes like Coca Cola.

5

Shasta Cola

Fizzy, bubbly. Delightful.

Jean


Flavor

Comments

1

Shasta Cola

Most cola-like. No added flavors, richest flavor.

2

Classic Coke

Flatter, weaker than [Shasta Cola].

3

Pepsi

Bitter aftertaste.

4

Pepsi Twist

Funny flavor - lemon? Chemical.

5

Vanilla Coke

Disgusting like raw cake batter.

As you can see, Jean and I both chose Shasta Cola as Number One. This came as a minor surprise, but as I'd never had it before it wasn't a dismissal of my previous opinions. And I've always said I prefer a fruit cola over either Pepsi or Coke alone, so I claim to be consistent.

One final comment. Kelly needs a lot more training as a lab assistant, as she was constantly making little comments about the flavors while Jean was taking her test. I finally escorted Kelly from the room so that Jean could complete the test without undue influence. But you might want to factor that contamination into the experiment.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:08 PM

July 26, 2002

Concert Night

Yesterday evening, Mentor sponsored a concert for employees and families, so Jean brought Kelly down. We bought some food from the concession stand (burger for Kelly, veggie burger for me) and sat on a towel listening to the band, The Patrick Lamb Band.

After a while, Kelly got up and danced. She's a natural, and just jumps into the music as if she's one of the entertainers. During a music break she took advantage of the free ice cream! Whoo! I passed on that myself.

This was the first event Mentor had had for awhile, but I still made Kelly leave with me at 7:15, so we'd get home in time for her normal bath time. Next time I hope it's on a Friday, so we can 'close down the joint'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:43 PM

Wet Fusion Fizzles?

Looks like Wet Fusion is taking more body blows:

Instead of the millions of degrees Celsius that are needed to drive a fusion event, Professor Suslick said the temperature inside the cavitating bubbles was only reaching 15-20,000 Celsius.

To paraphrase John Houseman: "We make energy the old-fashioned way, we buuuurrrrrn it!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:24 AM

An Apology

In my recent smoking anecdote, I referred to Dave Winer as 'opinionated', which is no crime. So am I. But I also called him a 'hypocritical egotist'. That was truly uncalled for. Looking back at adjacent entries I'm reminded that I'd just returned from Disneyland, and as I noted after a more recent trip, I don't travel well.

But that's no excuse. I definitely disagree with many things that Dave Winer says, and I feel he sometimes contradicts himself, both in words and actions. This more accurately reflects my opinions of him than the inflammatory phrase 'hypocritical egotist'. On the positive side, however much I take exception with some of his positions, I've been reading his words for several years, and have no plans to stop. In fact, I read Scripting News every day. The idea density is always high.

So on balance I have more respect for him than I chose to voice. I'm sorry about that. I reserve the right to make a face or groan, but I'll try not to use negative energy words about him in the future.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:28 AM

Over and Over

Mick Jagger turned 59 today. Is that even legal?

In my first months at college, I had a roommate who was a big Stones fan, and one day we got into a game of 'Stones Chicken'. How it worked was that he put on the album Sticky Fingers (side one, yes it was an LP, vinyl and all, kids). When the side had finished, he declared that he was going to play it again. "Go ahead, I don't care" I replied.

I mean, who could complain? You've got "Brown Sugar", "Wild Horses", "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", and "You Gotta Move" on that side (never much cared for "Sway"). So we listened to it again. Then it ended, the auto-arm lifted from the record, and he walked over to the record-player. With an impish grin and a hand on the tone-arm, he asked "again?" "Sure," I replied.

This went on the whole afternoon. It was a weekend, we had no plans, and in the end I think we listened to that side at least ten times, maybe as much as twelve. So here's to you Mick. Thanks for the memory.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 AM

AKA

As I was signing checks today for Jean to take to the bank, I noticed the check made out to Kelly from her grandparents. I turned it over to see how Kelly had done endorsing her check. It was kinda scribbly, but there was a big block of scribble clearly crossing out an earlier try. I mentioned it to Jean and she told me that Kelly had originally signed it:

Kelly Pokemon

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM

July 25, 2002

QOTD

Certainly I don't believe in the rapture of the nerds--the idea of a single point at which everything changes and all will be right thereafter.

Charles Stross

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:24 PM

July 24, 2002

What Price Fun?

Is a recipe worth $4.16? How about two? What if I throw in a cool tip for preparing food or getting the most out of your kitchen? But wait, there's more!

I took the plunge and subscribed to Cook's Illustrated magazine. It's published six times a year, and at the online subscription price, that works out to $4.16 per issue. I decided that I'd try it for one year, mainly on the strength of their television show, America's Test Kitchen, which I love. Looking at the masthead of the first issue of the magazine, I find most of the staff from the television show, so I think I'm on the right track.

I've only just browsed the first issue. It's only 32 pages long, but there is no advertising, and in addition to the no-nonsense scientific-method style of writing, it contains a boatload of recipes. Two have already caught my eye, and Jean wants to try another, so I guess I have to ask, what price a recipe, what price fun?

You'll be hearing more about this as time goes on. I already know that I'm too lazy to make many of the recipes these guys present. They are, after all, concerned with the Best Recipe, and that sometimes takes a little more effort. So I'm more interested in the shorter recipes which tweak my interest. To see what I mean, Sauce Mayonnaise pays back the minimal effort to learn and make it. It takes about five minutes to throw together, but is a lot of fun when I bother to make it. Returning to the magazine in search of quick gems, the recipe for balsamic vinaigrette looks promising. Stay tuned.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:44 PM

July 23, 2002

Accidental Traveller

Boy do I travel poorly. It's now three days after our return home, and I'm still muddling about. I had a good day at work today, but by now my mind is mud. I made sure to have a healthy, anti-oxidant rich meal for dinner, but I think I need to go to bed early tonight to overcome the deficit. Last night's sleep was alright, but the previous night was sleepless due to heavy sinus congestion.

I shudder to think what it would have been like if I'd had to travel the route Jean's sister and her husband did. They were in Australia for an academic conference, and flew from Australia to Hawaii (the main island). I'm not totally straight on their travel time, but I think it was at least sixteen hours! Gah! You'd have to roll me off the plane straight to the hospital.

On the bright side, I had no horrible stabbing sinus problems on either descent returning home. On the trip to Maui I had them both entering San Francisco and Maui. They weren't as bad as the attack on landing at John Wayne International for the Disneyland trip, but two in a row left me a zombie for the first evening and following day. On the return trip, I did my sinus medicine at just the right time, and worked diligently at equalizing pressure as we descended (both times). As a result, I just got an itching sensation in my sinuses, and as an aftereffect, a 'sprained' ligament in my face. That is, it was feeling sensitive to the touch on my cheek near the mandibular tendons... Whatever that means.

Jean's currently taking an evening exam, so Kelly is waiting (im)patiently for me to play with her, so this diatribe must come to an end. Aren't you glad?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:18 PM

July 22, 2002

Invest In the Future!

This snippet of a longer essay is taken out of context, but still, I think, fairly reflects some of what the author intends:

It's hard to explain, but you never really own a dog the way you own a child of your own species.

The larger essay is focused on dog 'ownership', spirituality and responsibility, but I caught up short on reading this sentence. I can state in no uncertain terms that I do not own my daughter. True, I owe her allegiance, and society at large holds me responsible for her acts until an arbitrary age of majority. But own her? I hope the author in this case was merely making an unfortunate choice of words.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:25 PM

July 21, 2002

Back From Hawaii

Travel sucks. It's late. Maybe I'll write more later. Maybe not. Oh, everyone got back safely.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:17 AM

July 12, 2002

One More Quote

In the days before the telephone it was impolite to impose yourself on people by visiting them. Instead you would leave a calling card. Expecting people to immediately answer their phones is just as rude.

Bob Frankston

Comment: I never make the phone my first priority. I use an answering machine, turned up high enough so I can hear the caller leaving the message. If I want to talk to them immediately, I go pick up. If it's not urgent and I'm engaged, I call back. If it's a telemarketer stupid enough to leave a message, I delete it. End of story.

Incidentally, I feel the same way about the front door as the telephone. Just 'cause someone knocks, doesn't mean I have to drop everything and answer. Call first, sucker.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:12 PM

Movie Notes

I forgot to mention that I'd seen Minority Report after the last NOVA meeting. I have to disagree with the critics who say that the last half hour was significantly worse, or somehow a Hollywood cop-out. It was very much in tune with much of the film noir ouvre, which this movie draws a lot of its inspiration from.

The Sunday afterward I saw Scooby Doo with Kelly. I have to say that Matthew Lillard was uncannily spot-on for the role of Shaggy. Linda Cardellini was better as Velma than some choices would have been, but not 'spot on'. The Freddy and Daphne roles were just 'cast-a-star' attempts to draw older teens with star power. Scooby animation was adequate. Thanks to the writers for properly thrashing Scrappy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 AM

Snakehead

I was telling Kelly about the Snakehead fish loose in a Maryland pond, and the danger of non-native species overrunning local fauna. She got it right away, but I had no picture handy. Now, here's a link to one.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

QOTD II

Wow, two good quotes from one essay! Another from Bruce Sterling's inaugural speech for his Viridian Design Movement, focussed on making an art of reducing greenhouse gases:

Of course, many people claim not to be convinced by this so-called climate change evidence. That is because they are shortsighted sociopathic morons who don't want to lose any money.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 AM

QOTD

ULTIMA is genre-based adventure fantasy, and yet it isn't. It's about selling the experience of being a group of people on a computer network, who are pretending to be a group of people in a simulated fantasy environment. The busywork with the swords and trolls and dragons is really absolutely paper-thin here, it's just one phosphor-dot thick.

Bruce Sterling

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:27 AM

July 11, 2002

Movie Time!

Yow! They've finally started listing the showtimes for Master of the Flying Guillotine at the Clinton Street Theatre.

For the record, the first week's showtimes look like:

I'm trying to set up view times with Tom and Alan by email. This will have to satisfy my 'stupid movie' quotient for awhile, as the Maui trip will overlap the next NOVA meeting. I won't get to another meeting until August! In the words of Mojo Jojo: "Currrrses!".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:56 AM

July 10, 2002

Game Geek Redux

I realize this makes me a totally squinty-eyed geekazoid, but I am really enjoying playing Silent Hill. I tend to squeeze in playtime in units of a half-hour to an hour in the evening while Kelly is soaking in the tub.

Since it's an ethereal, atmospheric, creepy game, the pace is usually slow enough that I can hit 'pause' without damaging the ambience. So when those interruptions inevitably happen, it ain't like FFX, where it can be downright painful getting away from the console...

I killed the Lizard!!!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:26 AM

July 08, 2002

More Social Engineering

Disney keeps rearing it's head. Here's a pointer to an essay on Boing Boing on traffic shaping at the park, another instance of social engineering. We found the 'machine' FastPasses at least more effective than standing in the standby line, though at Pirates of the Carribean it was still a long wait. My 'instant' FastPass, which came with our AAA holiday package, got me onto California Screamin' in about five minutes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

July 07, 2002

Disneyland Gallery

Lotsa chores this weekend, not much July 4th news, so... How about a new gallery? This is the combined 'cream' of one disposable camera, one roll of Kodak Royal Gold 400 in my Olympus Stylus Epic (sorry, still don't feel comfortable travelling with the Nikon N80), and one roll of Fuji Velvia 50 slide film (also known as Disneychrome). Can you pick out which is which? I can't!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:32 PM

July 03, 2002

Silent Hill

By the way, I've been playing Silent Hill on my PSOne recently. I've logged near four hours, explored most of the accessible parts of Silent Hill, without discovering the gateway to the next level of storyline, and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. My capsule review would be: I wanna say it's creepy, but that's not enough. Since this is a PG weblog, let's just say it's damned creepy.

I'll post here if--when--I break down and seek hints on how to escape the ghetto I'm in...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 AM

Baroque, yet Trailer Park

From the sort of mind that brings you such dishes as Turducken, comes another dish that has remained below my radar until now: Beer Can Chicken. The principle here is that you stuff an open can of beer up a chicken's butt, put it upright onto a barbeque grill, and grill away. The beer in the can boils, evaporates into the chicken, and leaves it moist and tender, even if overcooked.

My first thought on hearing this on the radio this morning was, "so if barbeque smoke is cancerous, what does cooking a bird containing a metal can with various industrial paints and dyes on it do?" Just label me curmudgeonly...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:06 AM

July 02, 2002

While Waiting For the Sandman

My sleep deficit has been paid off. I slept nine hours last night, including a stretch of six uninterrupted hours at the start. I feel so much better than yesterday. I could have gone to sleep any time after getting home from work, and I was yawning seemingly every five seconds. But I put it off until 11pm, fearing a repeat of the previous night's sinus horrors. But all was well...

In the few hours I spent vacillating, I went downstairs and watched the remainder of a Hong Kong movie I'd gotten from the International Channel. It was called Thunder Cops, but the only such movie noted on the Hong Kong Movie Database was an entirely different movie. The International Channel does a very haphazard job of titling, crediting, et cetera.

Thunder Cops is about a cop who is working undercover in a triad, though since he steals, kills people and otherwise breaks the law without apparent connection to his duties, it's hard to say how is is an undercover cop anymore. Oh, and he has a brain tumor. His sister works in a hospital, and was once engaged to his best friend, another cop who has sworn to arrest him, not knowing he is also a cop. It just gets goonier from there. This movie is sort-of trying to join the ranks of 'heroic bloodshed' movies which have abounded in Hong Kong, but it can't really make up it's mind, and just settles for ridiculous visual hyperbole, such as gun battles where the heroes get shot in the kneecap and limp bravely onward toward the bad guy. I honestly don't know why I finished this one. Even I Wanna Be Your Man was more interesting than this one.

Next in my Replay queue is 9413, directed by and starring Francis Ng, who was also in I Wanna Be Your Man. This one at least sounds a little more interesting than the last one. But when you're taking free screenings off a television network, you have to prepare for some 'made-for-tv' quality shows.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:32 PM

July 01, 2002

QOTD

Basically the only legal activities in Yellowstone National Park are drinking alcohol and driving a motorized vehicle.

Philip Greenspun

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:25 PM

Day of the Dead

Pretty much sleepwalking today. My sinuses went through one of their periodic fussy periods where they block completely and no medication seems to help. This leads to 'sleeping' with mouth open, drying throat, coughing, waking up. Repeat. Last time I looked at the clock it was 2:45am. I doubt I got five hours of sleep. Hope it's not so nasty tonight.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:43 AM

June 26, 2002

QOTD (Computer Geeks Only)

The road to Perl is paved with syntax extensions.

Daniel Dittmar in comp.lang.python

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:45 PM

One Last Disneyland Anecdote

Jean and Kelly were in a souvenir store on the hotel premises when I came down from the room to join them. We talked about going to Goofy's Kitchen for the character breakfast, and I offered to go there and try to get reservations. Jean asked Kelly "do you want to go with Dad or stay with me?" Kelly answered "stay with you." Why not? The store had all those cool tchatckas.

So I began my walk, expecting to place a reservation and then wait in the lobby of the restaurant for Jean and Kelly to join me. Not ten seconds after I left the store, Kelly is tugging on my shirt. "Oh, you decided to come with me after all?" "Uh huh." Now this is the measure of where I fail as a parent. I didn't even think to ask Kelly if she'd let her mom know that she was coming with me. I didn't assume she told Jean, it just plain didn't occur to me. So we went off to find the restaurant.

I got the reservations, and I was looking to see if Jean had found the restaurant when she came in with a Disney Security officer in tow. Kelly had not told Mom anything, but just dashed out the door after me at the last instant. Jean was paying for something and didn't catch her departure in that fatal instant. Probably moments after Kelly shot out the door, Jean became aware she was not there and began to look for her. Things escalated and Jean began living the nightmare that Kelly might have been snatched, hoping for the lesser nightmare that Kelly had merely wandered off and become lost.

The happy ending is that of course we were reunited, after Jean lost a few years to fear. And Kelly and I added some safety rules to our repetoire, i.e. always make sure each parent knows where Kelly is before taking off.

Being a true geek, I also offered a technical fix for human frailty: "if we'd had a pair of Family Radio Service handhelds, you'd have been able to ask me if Kelly was with me as soon as you missed her, and not had to worry." So before the next trip, we'll be buying a pair of FRSs (possibly three, so I can take one to Anime Expo, while Jean and Kelly both have their own units).

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:12 PM

June 25, 2002

More Disneyland Musings

The positive side of Disneyland for Kelly is of course the Fantasy: the breakfast with Disney characters at Goofy's Kitchen, the dinner with more Disney characters at Avalon Cove, the rides like Dumbo and King Triton's Carousel and the Orange Stinger.

The positive side for me, where it exists, is in what I've been calling social engineering. This is all the infrastructure and activities designed to keep crowds of people moving, satisfied, cheerful. In long lines, there is often some visual distraction to pass the time, a 'side-story' for the ride playing on monitors, animatronic tableau, a view of other rides, whatever. Often, the line is broken up into 'outside' and 'inside' so you don't have to see the line stretching unbroken into the distance.

In parades there are clear breaks between attractions so that pedestrians can cross the street without waiting for the entire parade to pass by. One parade I witnessed at Paradise Pier in the California Adventure illustrates some of the continuous, subtle application of technology in the aid of this social engineering. This parade was composed of several segments with varying musical themes. There was classical Chinese, American Pop, jazz and so on.

As each 'themed' part of the parade passed by, it's musical accompaniment swelled to fill the air, displacing the last. Each of these musical themes seemed to have the same metre as the last, and the blending was seamless. I found out later from a 'cast member' that each float at the center of a themed section of the parade carries a radio transmitter. The transmitter sends a signal to the speakers which line the parade route. As the signal from the transmitter gets stronger, it overrides the signal from an earlier float, and the music for that float begins to dominate the speakers at that particular location. Supercool!

Still, I'm a curmudgeon, and observing the subtle and unsubtle applications of social engineering lasts one only so long. Our trip ended none too soon for me. All the standing in line and walking at one-third speed with the random shuffle surrounded by milling crowds takes it's toll on my back. Jean asked Kelly if we should stay longer next time, and Kelly said yes. I told her that one more day would have seen me lying on the hotel bed with a heating pad in the small of my back.

While I made time for myself to try out some of the 'grown-up' rides, I guess I'm just not into amusement parks any more. I rode the faux Coney Island roller coaster, California Screamin', and while I got satisfactorily jostled and disoriented, it was pretty much, "so what?" While others were screaming and flailing their hands, I was just sitting quietly with a small smile on my face. I guess it's pretty much a 'make your own fun' sort of thing.

I rode Space Mountain, mainly to see if I thought Kelly would like it. I don't think she's ready for careening through nearly pitch black spaces in an invisible roller coaster, so I didn't suggest it. My reaction was the same ho-hum attitude. Star Tours was amusing, but more for what a ride simulator can do than for the actual attraction.

So Jean is talking about this being a yearly event and I'm replying "it doesn't have to be every year, surely?" In any case, the scenario we talked about last year but didn't do now seems likely: Jean and Kelly ride down to John Wayne Airport with me when I go to Anime Expo next year, and they take the shuttle to Anaheim, while I take the shuttle to Long Beach. At the end of AX, instead of taking the shuttle back to the airport, I take one to Anaheim and join them for a day or two at Disneyland before we all fly back together. That way, Kelly gets several days at Disneyland (Anime Expo is a four day convention) and I get spared burning out on Disney before she does.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:19 PM

Tobacco

I've been reading about how Dave Winer nearly had a heart attack recently, ending up in the hospital for a short stay. The diagnosis is that it was apparently aggravated by heavy smoking. So now he's grappling with quitting. Most interesting to me is that I've been reading his weblog for several years now (despite the fact that he's an opinionated and hypocritical egotist a lot of the time), and he's never once let slip that he smokes. I don't think he was concealing things, I just think that he took it for granted, like breathing. And now he doesn't.

I smoked for several years when I was young and immortal. I attempted to quit once while in college (exactly where I started) and failed. When I met Jean I decided to quit for real. I started by switching to low-tar cigarettes, then lower still. Then I rationed myself to x cigarettes per day, gradually reducing the number x. Finally the day came when I was down to my final pack. The entire process took several weeks. That day, I made sure I wasn't working or doing anything stressful. I don't remember what I did do. Probably went to a movie.

I was braced for terrible cravings, a vulture perched on my shoulder. But it never arrived. I'm sorry to tell all the other ex-smokers out there, but quitting was easy. While awake, I never experienced a craving. When sleeping, I would occasionally have a dream where I inadvertently lit up a cigarette, and thought "Oh damn. Now I'll have to start all over again." Then I'd wake up and realize I hadn't smoked after all, and feel relieved. So I guess I only needed a smoke when it couldn't hurt me.

And now I have a kid, and I'm glad I'm not oh-so-unthinkingly subjecting her to second-hand smoke. You could say I'm exposing her to second-hand health.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:19 AM

June 24, 2002

How To Murder Your GBA (Without Really Trying)

I've just installed a gallery of my stumbling efforts installing an Afterburner into my Gameboy Advance. All the pictures are of me or my GBA, since Tom had the only camera. Silly me, I forgot to bring mine, so thanks Tom.

Despite the dust stuck in between layers of LCDs, antireflective film, etc., this was a very good addition. I took the GBA with me on the plane flight, and on the way down finally got to a save point in Castlevania, Circle of the Moon. In fact, I levelled up to level 8, and saw several rooms in the castle. At least until I got chomped by the floating mummy dancer thingies.

Idle moments at Disneyland were also spent tinkering with Advance Wars, which isn't nearly as dark as Castlevania, but still looked quite good with a frontlight. So I'd say the darn thing was a success indeed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM

21st of June vs. 4th of July

I think I can be excused from fireworks events this year, since the fireworks at Disneyland our last night out were bigger and more spectacular than any I'm likely to see locally. Kelly was just about shrieking, jumping up and down, clapping and generally wigging out while it was going on. She had just finished her final ride on the Dumbo rockets, and we were fortuitously in just the right place for a grand view of the light show. Moreover, we were in a great location to see Tinkerbell scooting through the air from the Matterhorn to who-knows-where over the trees:

Disney has arielists, both male and female, playing Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell slides down the wire from the Matterhorn to behind the Village Haus restaurant. Tinkerbell is caught at the end of her zip line by two guys with mattresses. Cast Members enjoy watching Tinkerbell crash into an old bed mattress in the landing area, an elevated platform behind the Village Haus restaurant.

Fun Facts of Disneyland's Matterhorn, #14

This last citation is amusing because it is from a collection of 'reports' on 'facts' about Disneyland. The section on Tinkerbell and the Matterhorn is filled with contradictory tidbits, but the essentials are correct. It was definitely fun to watch Kelly react to the flying Tinkerbell.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:39 AM

Too Soft

Funny how the little things can have such an impact. One of the things I found most bothersome in Anaheim (and indeed I've noticed this whenever I've gone to Anime Expo, now moved to Long Beach) is the water. Tualatin water is a trifle hard, I think, but I've grown used to it. The water in Anaheim may be processed or just naturally soft. Whatever.

The problem is that I've grown used to the qualities of Oregon water, and whenever I travel to that land to the south, the water seems strange. Alien. A glass of water just doesn't seem to satisfy my thirst. It seems tainted somehow.

So I'm thankful to be back home drinking the water I'm used to. I suppose that if I had to move to California (heavens forfend), I'd be used to the water in six months or so, but let's not do that experiment, okay?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:24 AM

June 23, 2002

Back From the Mouse

We're back. We got back home in the early afternoon, but between unpacking and decompressing, I had no interest in posting. I won't give a blow-by-blow account of the trip. I'll just note impressions as they come in separate entries.

The trip started off badly for me, as I had stabbing pains in my sinuses on landing in Orange County. This has only happened to me once before, but it's quite painful, and you find yourself wondering if it will escalate into a medical emergency. Still, I survived it, with bruised sinuses and a headache.

We spent the first part of the first day lounging around the hotel. Kelly didn't want to go to the park, opting for the pool instead. We insisted that she come with us to the park for some dinner, and then she began to see the potential of the place. We closed the park down that evening .

Thereafter it was quite a rollercoaster ride (no pun intended), with her emotions--and ours--ranging from happy to angry. I'm not too good at gauging when she has had too much sensory input and is overloading. But I think the net balance was positive. She certainly wants to go back.

More on this as I think of it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 AM

June 18, 2002

Disneyland Doom

Tomorrow we depart for the airport around 4:30am, so look for even less posting than usual. We'll be returning home late Saturday.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:04 AM

June 17, 2002

Sunday, Sunday

I slept in Sunday, then got up and rough-housed with Kelly for awhile. I opened my Father's Day gift from Jean's parents. It was a book on father-daughter relations. I haven't really looked at it yet, as I've got a queue of library books to work through right now, but I will give it a read in due time. Right now I'm trudging through the intelligent design book. Trudging is not the right word, but at over 800 pages, it seems daunting. I don't think I'll finish it, and I don't think I'll buy it myself, as it's the sort of topic that makes for interesting browsing but not for permanently ensconcing on your bookshelf.

As if that isn't enough, Kelly and I went to the library to pick up the reserve book I had, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, a book purporting to fix the flaws in the USDA Food Pyramid. So far it looks interesting, but I'm giving it minimal time while I wade through the other book. Kelly picked up a book and three Pokemon videos, and signed up for the Summer Reading Program.

After that task, we drove to Game Switch, a used videogame store, so I could see if they had any Gameboy Advance games I could take on the plane. I ended up buying two Gameboy Color games for Kelly: the Pokemon Trading Card Game and the Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition, as well as a game card booster pack from the Pokemon Legendary Collection. She's been playing Pokemon Yellow almost nonstop ever since. I told her to save it for the airplane, but she seems to think it will last forever.

For myself, I bought a copy of Advance Wars, a turn-based strategy game. Seems that's what I'm into right now, as I'm also playing Final Fantasy Tactics on my PSOne in the den. Anyway, Advance Wars seems fun and I'm definitely planning on taking it on the plane. As if that wasn't enough, I also bought a copy of Silent Hill to build an alternative to Resident Evil 2. I haven't tried it out yet.

Due to Kelly's immersion in the Gameboy Color, we didn't go to see Scooby Doo, so I may not actually see it. By the time we get back from Disneyland, Lilo and Stitch should be out, so that may wipe Scooby from her memory. Too bad.

I didn't get to do my back strength-training Sunday, as I had sprained my lower back lifting a heavy wooden box into my car trunk on Saturday. Nothing serious, I just don't want to take chances making it worse just before our trip. So except for walks around the neighborhood, my exercise schedule is on hold until we return from the trip. Oof.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 AM

Saturday Report

Jean has an interview today, and school is out, so I'm staying with Kelly this morning. I'll probably work an 11:30 to 8 shift to keep on schedule. In the meantime...

Agora, where I host this weblog, was down much of the weekend, so even though I had time, I didn't post. Saturday was NOVA, but I was off playing even earlier. As a sort of early Father's day present, Jean let me run off to Tom's to engage in a kit bash. We gathered together all our widgets 'n' gadgets and cracked open our Gameboy Advances. This is the first 'electronics project' I've ever done, and it's a good thing that it was in quotes, i.e. not really advanced electronics.

The task involved completely disassembling the unit, using a Dremel tool to chew away some of the plastic to make room for the frontlight, installing anti-reflective film on the LCD, putting the frontlight in place, soldering a resistor onto the circuit board, and the frontlight onto the power bus. We learned along the way, and some of the directions were not totally clear, so we ended up with some dings on our clear plastic screen covers, and some dust trapped in between it and the frontlight (or between the frontlight and the LCD). As a result, it really does look like a home handicraft job, with some dirt reflecting light out of the screen and scratches marring some of the viewable area.

Even given all that, it is so much better than the original screen visibility that I've been playing with it more or less non-stop. I'm gonna have to stock up on more rechargeable batteries real soon now. You can bet this baby is going on the plane with me for Disneyland. My unit was certainly out of warranty, so you might not want to try this yourself, but as Tom and I observed, now that we've done it, we could do it again in a third of the time with much cleaner results. I might even do it again someday with a new unit.

We trucked off to NOVA, and had a fine time. The projector fund is within a hair's breadth of being complete! In eight months of fund raising! What happened to that club of ten years ago, when we were all so poor? My how things change. And yet the club is still a social venue, and indeed the main place I go to socialize with my friends.

This weekend, we didn't go to the movies after the meeting, instead opting to go to a restaurant for a snack. We went to the Outback Steakhouse, where the theme is, as you would guess, Australian. The waitress called everyone 'darlin', and the choices in food were mainly coronary specials, so I ordered the soup and salad, then decided to take the plunge and get dessert. The cheesecake I ordered was so rich and huge I got through maybe a third of it before asking for a takeaway container.

After we wrangled together the bill, Dan was stuffing it into the stack of menus, as if he was afraid it would blow away. I said, "don't hide it." Then as we were leaving, in my best Steve Irwin voice, I stage-whispered "undernaith wahn of these naipkins is a tip for ouwer waitress. Under the ahther napkin is a venomous snaike!". The guys were already snickering, and than as I reached the door, I stage-yelled "Crikey!" Never afraid to play the fool, this one .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:17 AM

June 14, 2002

Trying Father

Apparently I'm doomed to deal with boys stalking my daughter much earlier than I had anticipated. Allow me to explain...

Kelly has been getting into the whole Pokemon Card trading thing, spending her hard-earned allowance on booster packs as fast as she can earn them. She's up to fifty or sixty cards now, and is trying to weasel freebie packs whenever she can. I always tell her to save her allowance. I have gone so far as to give her a dollar to help her buy two packs instead of one, when she had $6 saved up (one pack costs $3.49, so two comes to about $7). However, I found out Jean caved yesterday and bought her a pack.

When you buy a booster pack, there is always the danger of getting cards which you already own, duplicates. This is in fact part of the economic power of these games. Folks willingly buy pack after pack of boosters looking for that card they don't have yet. A side-effect of this is that you may have duplicates of cards somebody else wants. Now the trading starts. It turns out Kelly has been trading with kids at her school. The kids with the most cards are boys. Can you see where I'm heading here?

Jean went to pick up Kelly from afternoon daycare yesterday, on the last day of school. She was almost immediately approached by a boy who wanted to know if Kelly was going to summer daycare at Bridgeport, or if not, was she going to be in school there next year? He is apparently one of her trading partners, and is way too enthusiastic. He got his mom to give Jean his number, and Jean gave ours to her. Now here's the kicker: he's two years older than her! Miles (Miles!) is nine. Kelly is seven (almost). Double their ages, and my fourteen year-old daughter would be hanging out with an eighteen year-old boy! Unacceptable! Man the parapets! [Triple their ages and she's 21 and he's 27--Shhh! I'm trying to make a point here!]

Okay, I'm not really bothered by this, but I am surprised. What does a nine year-old boy see in a seven year-old girl? An easy mark for Pokemon Card trading? I guess I'll find out this summer when and if there is a play date...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 AM

Book Report

I finally did plow through to the end of Breaking Windows last night. It's a nice exercise if you buy the press on Microsoft, either as the economic dynamo and innovator or as the evil bully of the tech arena.

The author, David Banks, works for the Wall Street Journal, and in his capacity as chief reporter on the Microsoft beat, he and his colleagues waded through thousands of emails from Microsoft made public during the antitrust trial. Adding to that his many interviews with various key figures at Microsoft over the years, he has put together a deeply nuanced picture of a massive and conflicted organization.

From the sweeping story told in the book, I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft did break the law, but they may really have believed that what they did was not wrong. This book is just one reporter's impressions, but given the mass of data and interviews, it isn't just opinion. A good remedy for the black and white viewpoints prevailing today.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:17 AM

News of the Day

It had to happen someday. Given that Kelly has been identifying the 'D' and 'P' mint marks on coins as 'mistakes' making her pennies worth 'hundreds of dollars', it is timely that we find out now that two U.S. Mint employees were caught stealing and selling five $1 coins that were stamped incorrectly with the head of a Washington quarter. The coins were truly mistakenly stamped, but give 'em time, give 'em time...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 AM

June 11, 2002

QOTD

That's as cheap as throwing a dinner party and only serving things that are covered in melted cheese. Sure, your guests will love every bite, but afterwards, they'll feel sick, and the sight of you will make them retch.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:07 PM

June 10, 2002

Word of the Day

decorticate

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:04 PM

QOTD

Yesterday, actually, from Futurama, when Bender is reacting to Leela's suggestion he be more sensitive:

Ah hah hah! Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even louder. AAAAHH HAAAHHH HAHHH!!!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:36 PM

Game Console Hacking As Hobby

In case the Afterburner project isn't satisfactory, here's the GBA PSOne LCD Project.

[page down for project photos]

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:56 AM

Weekend Update

Kelly and I went to the Beaverton Farmer's Market Saturday and bought about $15 worth of vegetables and treats. I got arugula, spinach, a Walla Walla sweet onion and vine tomatos. Kelly got cauliflower, carrots, a pint of strawberries, a glass of apple cider and a bunch of little cookie-type sweets. Jean had to study, so she only gets to share my take.

While we were there, I talked to one of the farmers from Denison Farm, which is a CSA farm. I wanted to see what their 'weekly vegetable box' looked like. If everybody in the family ate it, it wouldn't last a week, but as I think I'm the one mainly interested, it would probably be more than enough. The subscription is from May through October, so I've missed the boat for this year. I'll have to put a note in my Pilot to remind me to call them around March of next year.

After the trip to the farmer's market, Kelly and I swung by Toys 'r' Us to buy some Pokemon cards. Kelly is on a kick with these right now as some of her friends at school have stacks of them. She wants us to buy her a ton of them, but I've told her she's on her own. It's been remarkably motivating--she did her chores on Saturday morning before I even woke up. She was $1 short of buying two packs, so I gave her an extra dollar for being so good with her chores.

While we were there, I looked at the Nintendo Gamecube again, but decided that the choice of games seemed smaller than what I'd seen at Fry's, so I'll be waiting at least another week on that purchase. Besides, I've gotta buy some Fuji Velvia film (because of it's nickname of 'DisneyChrome') to put into my Oly Stylus P&S for the trip to Disneyland, which is just nine days away now! (still not comfortable taking the SLR with me on a trip, just yet)

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:27 AM

June 09, 2002

Sic Semper Tyrannis

W00t! I finished Resident Evil. Yes, I played Jill, the easier character, and yes, I took nearly nine hours of cumulative game time, and yes, I saved 21 times, and yes, I occasionally consulted GameFAQs.org to get past blockages, but I finished it. I gotta tell you, it took me three tries to get off the heliport without being blown up, and my heart was pounding from the tight timing, but it was fun all the same.

I could play the game again, using the 'special key' I got at the end of this one, or play as Chris, or just try to improve my time. But I'm going to lay off of RE for awhile, and when I return, I think I'll just go straight to Resident Evil 2. If I ever manage to get through one play of that, then I'll either buy the Gamecube and the RE remake, or I'll buy Resident Evil Code Veronica X for the PS2 and play that first, as Alan tells me it is supposed to be a fun version.

One thing I've discovered playing on the PSOne in the den is that I enjoy the setup. I sit in an office armchair and have the PSOne on a drafting desk. I've got it hooked up to a 13" television right now. Somewhat better than the little 5" LCD screen on the PSOne itself.

I just started fiddling with Final Fantasy Tactics. Alan gave it to me to try out ages ago (along with Oni and Ape Escape). I don't know yet if I'll play it for very long. It looks like a great game for the Gameboy Advance, a handheld, but I'm not sure if playing it on a console will be quite as much fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:20 PM

June 07, 2002

Rare Earth and Statistics

Thinking back to Rare Earth, I found another way to express my disatisfaction with their approach. The focal point of their attack is the Drake Equation, which attempts to assign probabilities to various conditions which would be needed to support intelligent life. People like Carl 'billions and billions' Sagan argued from the Law of Large Numbers that even tiny probabilities in each of the variables would result in a respectable number of civilizations due to the vast number of stars:

The Law of Large Numbers says that in repeated, independent trials with the same probability p of success in each trial, the chance that the percentage of successes differs from the probability p by more than a fixed positive amount, e > 0, converges to zero as the number of trials n goes to infinity, for every positive e.

In our terms, each star system is an independent trial, and the proportion of star systems which have a given attribute should approach the probability p for that attribute. So a law of statistics is used in tandem with the large number of stars in the universe to plead for the ubiquity of life.

That's a tough, if somewhat specious argument to beat. And it is an arbitrary target, as Carl Sagan, Frank Drake and the authors of Rare Earth all admit. The numbers assigned to all the probability variables are guesses. Most of the earlier contributors are willing to live with that, and class the Drake Equation as an interesting thought experiment.

But the authors of Rare Earth take the bait, and make it their mission to try to push as many of the variables as possible to darn near zero, even introducing new variables which they have a better chance of assigning probability zero to in order to achieve their goal. But it's just a game. And it's this aggressive attack of what is clearly just a game, and clearly just a parlor trick at that, which makes the book annoying. Lots of the topics discussed were fascinating, but that they were all directed to destroying an admittedly offhand, back-of-the-envelope thought experiment just irked me no end.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 AM

School's (Not Quite) Out

You can tell school's winding down. Kelly's class went on a field trip to the zoo yesterday (no lemurs! waaah!), and today they're doing a picnic at the park. Jean is studying like a demon to prepare for final exams, and has enlisted me as a math tutor. Meanwhile, I'm spending my evenings trying to get through a particularly nasty section of Resident Evil, with no save rooms in sight! Gah!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM

Geek Gaming Gear

Tom's gotten his Afterburner, so it's only a matter of time now until my Gameboy Advance has a frontlight. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, look out!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

Readin' Report

I finished scanning Mac OS X: The Missing Manual. I have no intention of reading it cover-to-cover until such time as I have an actual full-time OS X machine, which may be awhile, cosidering Mentor's stock price right now.

I've been working my way through Breaking Windows, but even though I've gotten nearly two-thirds through it, I doubt I'll finish it. I've already absorbed the main thesis of the book: Microsoft is not an evil army of programmers, marching in lockstep to enslave the world; it's at least two evil armies, fighting for sole rights to enslave the world.

So now I'm reading the third book in the Fall Revolution series, The Cassini Division. It's still pretty political, but the novels are becoming more far-future, sense-of-wonder fun than the first one. One more to go, then I'll have to find something else to read in the 'fluff' category.

Next in the queue is Intelligent Design: Creationism and Its Critics. I got this from the library, but at 825 pages, there's no way that I'll be able to read it in three weeks, or even with a renewal. I intend to scan it, and see if it's worth buying. Saves me $45 if it sucks.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 AM

June 05, 2002

Paranoia

What does it tell you if a person, on entering a room, carefully scans it and listens intently before moving to the center? If each side street and corner encountered on a walk seems to warrant extra scrutiny? Maybe that this person has been playing too much Resident Evil.

I played for about an hour last night, taking a break only to give Kelly her bath. Then my character got killed by poison gas inhalation, coming from a hole I'd incompletely covered. And like FFX, this happened after a loooong stretch of incidents with no access to a save room, so I'll have to backtrack quite a bit. Given that, I decided to quit for the night. Instead I went for a walk around the neighborhood to get some exercise.

I've noticed that after a particularly involving movie, I tend to have an 'altered state' of mind, with my perspective shifted somewhat by whatever occurred in the movie. So it was on the walk last night. I was looking around, not really thinking about it, but paying a lot more attention than usual to driveways, side streets, corners and the like. It finally dawned on me that I was 'checking for zombies'. Ain't that a hoot? But the walk was still enjoyable.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:43 PM

June 03, 2002

That Didn't Take Long...

"The Sum of All Fears," adapted from Tom Clancy's best seller, took over the No. 1 spot from "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," which grossed $20.7 million in its third weekend to raise its total to $232 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

source

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM

Sunday Activities

After Sunday's usual chores, I took Kelly to see Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron. Despite some historical glitches, it was reasonably entertaining, and I found it interesting that with the exception of Matt Damon's narrative voice for Spirit, the animated horses didn't talk. They only whinnied at each other, and used body language to communicate. It was a refreshing change from the average cartoon animal show. The only improvement here would have been if the cavalry officers also didn't talk, and communicated with grunts and waving arms.

There was a fair amount of frankness regarding the cruelty of humans toward animals, and at one point a mare is shot by a cavalry officer. The movie lets you think this mare is going to die, and Kelly was reacting quite emotionally, though sometimes it's hard to tell. Kelly will occasionally hold forth with quite convincing sobs during a sad story, as a sort of theatre-in-the-round, cinema-verite, immersive theater experience, when in fact she's actually quite detached. In any case, the horse survives and makes a happy, romantic appearance at the end of the movie, so Kelly was happy again.

After a brief break for lunch, I took Kelly to Ibach Park to run around. It was bright and sunny, though if you got in the shade, it was cool enough. I still don't identify with the sun worshippers though. The sunlight was bright and hard on my eyes. It was hot, oppressive, and eventually painful. Bring back the rainy season!

After returning from the park, I did my strength training, then went upstairs and played a little Resident Evil. Alan informs me that indeed, the Gamecube remake of the game is a lot harder, so I'm pausing in my headlong flight to buy the game. I'll probably still do it, but the thought of zombies following me through doors (they don't usually do so in the original version), and taunting me about my love handles and flabby thighs is just more disheartening than I can describe!

Final note: sixteen days to Disneyland. Kelly's starting to get excited.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

What Am I Bid?

Saturday was the date of the big NOVA fundraising auction. I was really pleased with how it went. Not only did we raise a ton of money, but it was fun to boot! Dan barked at Terry when Terry tried to run the auction as a traditional livestock auction, going too fast to allow people who are not professional bidders to decide they really wanted that Chobits poster. Terry 'resigned' on the spot, and another brave member stepped up to the plate.

The funniest scene was when my signed Tenchi poster came up for bid. Everybody pretty much knew that Bob would try to get it. I pretty much knew that most everyone else wasn't all that interested. So Dan decided to give Bob some competition, bidding it up to get Bob to pay more. Of course there was always the danger that Bob would fold, and Dan would have to buy the poster. I called it 'bidding chicken'. Eventually, Dan's sister came over and put her hand over Dan's mouth, letting Bob get the poster for $160. Rumor has it that Bob had $400 in his bidding pool. Too bad, we should have put together a bidding keiretsu to compete with him.

On another front, Tom hadn't gotten his Afterburner frontlight yet, so I haven't assembled mine to see how well it works. After the meeting, we went to see Undercover Brother, and post-movie, Tom had me tell everybody about Jean's nerd comments on the Afterburner. Everybody had a good laugh, including me. That should alleviate Jean's guilt!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:03 AM

May 31, 2002

Ultimate dining?

Hey! It's only a 10 1/2 hour drive from my house to the French Laundry Restaurant, in Yountville, California! Then I can pay $120 per person to savor the Chef's Tasting Menu, which seems to be the choice Jason Kottke and his mate made. All I need to do is anticipate the next time I'm going to be near Sacramento or San Francisco and call in a reservation -- two months in advance. The food had better be good.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 AM

May 30, 2002

Ready To Operate

I think I mentioned this, but my friend at work, Burr, is a rather fastidious and methodical person, and wears latex gloves to change the oil in his truck. No oil stains on his hands, that way. And now, he's let me have two pairs, freeing me from having to buy a box full just for the ones I need. Now Tom and I can do our frontlight kits without getting finger oils on the light guides. Cool deal.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:45 PM

Biology Lesson

It's only that I'm too lazy to really go to town in Photoshop, or I'd have labelled all the major features of the eukaryotic cell illustrated in the birthday cake which Kelly and Jean made to celebrate Jean and my birthday. As it is, you'll just have to enjoy the pictures, starting with the banner, which links to the gallery of two picture.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:39 PM

Photoshopping

The other present I got was from Jean. It was the Photoshop 6 Wow! Book. As you recall, I rated one other book I'd looked at higher, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the wish list .

So as planned, I'll work my way through the book at a snail's pace, and probably complete it in about a year. That's why I wanted to look at them from the library first. Why pay $50 for a book that you wanna use for a year, only to discover it's unworkable? So the Wow! book has a ginchy layout, but I think I can work around it to save $50 buying another...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:04 AM

Afterburner Frontlight

W00t! Ma new frontlight is here! As Jean and I celebrate our birthdays together on her birthdate, this constitutes one of two presents I got yesterday. I opened the box, checking that it wasn't just full of bubble wrap, but I don't want to get fingerprints all over everything. I'll hang on to it in it's packaging until I can get around to either borrowing Tom's Dremel tool, or arranging to go over to his place to have a 'kit fest'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 AM

May 29, 2002

MUDs, MMORPGs and Me

Kottke discussed a presentation at ETech which introduced the notion that there are four broad personality types associated with on-line gaming, especially MMORPGs. In turn, this talk was apparently based on Players Who Suit MUDs (pun intended, I'm sure) by Richard A. Bartle:

So, labelling the four player types abstracted, we get: achievers, explorers, socialisers and killers. An easy way to remember these is to consider suits in a conventional pack of cards: achievers are Diamonds (they're always seeking treasure); explorers are Spades (they dig around for information); socialisers are Hearts (they empathise with other players); killers are Clubs (they hit people with them).

Now my lifestyle just doesn't lend itself to playing MMORPGs. Everquest and the like derive their main benefit from the ability of players to link up with each other online and engage in cooperative quests. Sort of like AD&D online. But years ago I played AD&D, and nowadays I play console RPGs, and I have to categorize myself as a Spade. Make of that what you will.

Seriously, the thing I value most about Final Fantasy X is not the battles, but the expanding world, and the storyline that is revealed by moving through it. Even Resident Evil's main attraction to me is the movement through the mansion, finding bits and pieces of the puzzles, not the endless shotgun blasts at zombie after zombie. Of course, RE and it's ilk are cool just for the fusion of game genres (now old hat) that results in the label 'survival horror'.

P.S. - Still talking about good old PSOne Resident Evil here. I haven't sprung for the Gamecube yet. But if I do, it'll be 90% for this remake, and 10% for Pikmin.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:28 PM

May 27, 2002

Attack of the Memorial Day

Jean took Kelly to the mall this morning, for some mother-daughter fun. This includes shopping for summer clothes and looking at toys. I decided it would be intrusive of me to come along, so instead I went to the theatre and watched Attack of the Clones. [WARNING: Smart-alecky spoilers ahoy!]

Generally, I'd say that it rates very highly for the complexity of the effects and of the back story. The sometimes subtle indicators of plots and counterplots was actually pretty fun. Am I the only one, or does it seem obvious that Darth Sidious didn't seriously believe that Django Fett would succeed in killing Senator Amidala? I think he just cranked the peril up a notch to throw Padme and Anakin together, knowing that it would put a monkey wrench in Anakin's already twisted Jedi training.

The movie was worth seeing for lots of reasons, but I'd have to continue in my belief that any of the first three movies outranks these latest two. There's less spontaneity, less of a sense of genuine fun, than in any of the first three (and yes, I include Empire Strikes Back in that list).

Still, I've always been pretty good at taking each movie in the series on its own merits, and had no problem finding enjoyment in The Phantom Menace despite Jar-Jar Binks. Attack of the Clones is no exception. This movie is major eye candy, more than you can shake a cornea at. I'd love to see this at one of the digital theatres, but no way am I gonna drive to Seattle to see it at the Cinerama. All in all, I found many things enjoyable, even when they might have had a potential for bringing the movie down:

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:37 PM

May 26, 2002

Repetitive Evil

I've played Resident Evil so much over this holiday weekend that I'm almost burning out on it. Based on walkthroughs I've seen before, I suspect that I'm nearly two-thirds done. But as the old programmer's saw goes, "I've finished eighty percent of the project, and I've only got another eighty percent to go." That is to say, the game gets tougher from here on out, so I'll have to do a lot of repeat-from-last-save activity.

It's made worse by the fact that I've been spoiled by Final Fantasy X, and gotten used to saving a lot (even if they make me mad by putting me into untenable situations where I can't save when I need to). In FFX you can save as often as you like at any 'save point'. But in RE, you not only need to be in a 'save room', you can only save if you have a 'typewriter ribbon', and I'm down to my last one. I've gotta find another 'spool' of saves somewhere in the mansion, all the while struggling to stay alive until I've got that save option.

So this may turn out to be another FFX fiasco, where I enjoy playing, but get stuck at a spot where I need more saves than the game thinks I need. That'd be too bad, as I'm really having fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:21 PM

May 22, 2002

Nerdboy

Yahoo! I just got my notice from UPS that the Afterburner frontlight for my Gameboy Advance is on it's way, and should arrive by the 29th. I was reading the email, and announced to the house in general that it was coming. From the bedroom I heard Jean reply "I don't know what it is, I didn't know you ordered it, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it."

I replied "that's okay. There are parts of my life that I realize are of no earthly concern to you."

"Let's just say that there are parts of your life which remain mysterious."

And of course, I had to run back and explain to her what the Afterburner was. I could see that it was still a bit of a mystery to her, but soldiered on anyway. "But the neatest thing is, it's a kit. I'll have to take the GBA apart and install the frontlight, solder the wires to the power buss, the works. And Tom ordered one too, so we're probably going to install them together..." Jean was starting to laugh. "What?!?"

"You're like the nerd boys I used to teach: Mrs. Wakefield, Tom and I both got frontlights, and we're gonna take 'em to Webelos, and put 'em together, and we're gonna try to reach China!" By this time we were both cracking up pretty bad.

Then Kelly called out from the tub (bath time, don't ya know) and wanted to know what was so funny. Jean tried to explain it to her, concluding with "sometimes, when the nerd boys get excited, they just talk and talk and spit." Hey!

"Anyway, when I taught in Ohio, I used to have these boys who would always come up and show me their projects, and they talked about things I never understood, but they knew that I cared. And I loved them for it." In the words of some sports figure or another, nice save!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:11 PM

May 21, 2002

Master of the Sleeping Shuttle Service

Yes! Jean is okay with me going to Master of the Flying Guillotine on Friday, the 12th of July, so long as I can handle the fact that I need to drive her and Kelly to the airport in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. I think I'll be 'sleep-driving' at 4am, then going back to bed immediately I return home. But for such a rare spectacle as 'Master', I gotta do the sacrifice. Now let's hope they don't cancel or reschedule...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:23 PM

Recovery Diet

I knew I was getting over my cold this weekend when I developed a craving for fresh salad fixings. I went nuts at the grocery store, and I was rewarded with an intense sensation of pleasure eating my made-from-scratch salad (both Saturday and Sunday). Try this yourself:

I'm thinking the average heroin addict is sorely misled. This stuff is pure heaven. Gonna do it again next weekend!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:30 PM

Gamecube Ahoy!

Oh dear. Just took a lunchtime walk to Fry's, and the Gamecube is $149. Dunno what I'll do yet, but expect to read about it someday here.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:36 PM

Internet Radio

I've occasionally been listening to Japan-a-Radio of evenings, and it's made me aware of another usurious scam of the recording industry, whereby they planned to charge licensing fees in excess of 100-1000 times that of broadcast radio, basically putting Internet radio stations out of business. Now it looks as if that scheme may fall, as the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have rejected CARP as written. They have 30 days to announce an alternate solution. Let's hope it's more reasonable.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:03 AM

Kurzweil On Wolfram

For my own future reference, Ray Kurzweil records his impressions on Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, which has been on my Amazon Wishlist since I heard about it several months before publication.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:31 AM

Depth of Field Preview

Alan wondered why the Nikon N80 has a 'depth of field preview' button. It's an SLR, right? You're seeing what the lens is seeing, right? So what do you get with a 'preview' button that you don't get otherwise? So I looked it up. From the Nikon N80/F80 Magic Lantern Guide:

The depth-of-field preview button is located on the front of the camera body under the focus-assist lamp. It can be pressed easily with the middle finger of the right hand. When you do so, the diaphragm mechanism of the lens stops down to the actual aperture you have selected. Instead of viewing the scene at the widest lens aperture, you can do so at f/8, f/11, or f/16, and so on. This enables you to visually assess the actual zone of apparent sharpness that will appear in a photograph.

So when framing a picture through the viewfinder, the lens is actually at its widest aperture, despite your chosen setting. DOF Preview lets you see what you'll be getting when the camera actually exposes the film.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:08 AM

Site Churn

I'm backing things up at home (automated), but I thought I'd post a quick note about the site. I changed my password last night, but not in a secure way, as SSH was suddenly (mysteriously) not working. This morning it is (just as mysteriously) working again. So I'll probably change the password a couple of more times to make myself feel better, even if it's an illusory comfort.

Fortunately, nothing is secret here, since this is a weblog. I'm mostly concerned about someone putting words in my mouth.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 AM

May 20, 2002

Master of the Flying Guillotine

Am I going to be in town on July 12th? Can I finagle some time out of the house that evening? I sure hope so for both questions. It turns out that Pathfinder Pictures will be distributing Master of the Flying Guillotine to the Clinton Street Theatre that evening, the only showing in the Portland Metro area. This is a classic chop-sockey film, totally over the top, and I sure would like to see it, especially as Tom has said he'd go along if I could make it. Cross your fingers!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:25 AM

Site Hack

I can't vouch for the material found on the site (and I'm not going to do the work needed to be sure), as it appears someone has hacked into the account, at least the CGI side of things. How do I know? This morning the icon giving credit to Greymatter as the software driving this site, had been replaced for an icon for Yahoo! Finance. I surely didn't do it, so somebody else did.

This was an obvious change, but there may be more subtle ones. If you find weird items which even I wouldn't write, or odd pictures that don't seem to have anything to do with me, consider that. I'll be changing my account password and my CGI password tonight, but a competent hacker who really wants to mess with me will already have backdoors built in...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:53 AM

Star Wars Chatter

I went to NOVA Saturday, feeling better than I had most of the week, but still tentative. I enjoyed that meeting, the chatting (see Gamecube entry below) and the discussion of the upcoming NOVA auction, anchored by my autographed poster. As the evening wound down, I told folks that I could probably handle going to a 10:15 showing of AOTC, if we went to the Sherwood theatre, allowing me to get home just ten minutes after the show ended. But, I warned, that's the red-line limit. If the show is sold out, I will be going home, not waiting for the next later show.

Tom insisted that tickets would be easy, and we wandered down to Sherwood. The show was sold out. I went home. I think I'll catch it this Friday, as part of a long holiday weekend, since Monday is Memorial Day. In the meantime, here's an interesting review written by David McCusker.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 AM

Conflicts, Conflicts

Oh dear. Gotta find $200! Nintendo just announced that Tuesday they'd be dropping the price of the Gamecube to $149 in response to the drop to $199 of both the Xbox and the PS2. When Sony dropped the price on the PS2 (which I already own), and Microsoft responded with their cut to Xbox, I told my 'gaming friends' that if Nintendo dropped the Gamecube by as little as $50, it would be a strong incentive to buy, just for two games: Resident Evil (Kelly does not get to play) and Pikmin (Kelly does get to play). Then of course there's the upcoming release of a Gamecube Zelda game...

So here we are, and I have the money. The only problem is that I also want to buy a portrait lens for my SLR, which costs about the same. Oh pooh, being a responsible adult, and picking and choosing, is not fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

May 16, 2002

Backwater Portland

I checked, and none of the theatres near me is going to show AOTC via digital projection, George Lucas' preferred presentation format. And, no, Seattle is not 'nearby'. Heck, downtown Portland is not 'nearby' anymore, now that I'm a parent.

Just for chuckles, on the way in to work, I swung by the Wilsonville theatres, and at 8am, there was no line. No diehards waiting for the 10am show. Mind you, the first show was last night, at 12:01am. Gosh, I coulda gone, since I was awake in my bedroom coughing my lungs out. Don't think the other fans woulda minded...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:25 AM

Attack of the Cold

This here's a long-lasting cold. Last night, while not exactly feeling peppy, I thought I'd been over the worst of it. But sleepy time was filled with coughing and wheezy breathing...

At this rate, I may not be able to go with the crowd to AOTC on Saturday night. NOVA yes, Star Wars? ...

I think to be on the safe side, I'll try to see it Friday afternoon. I have no qualms about seeing it twice.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:37 AM

May 15, 2002

QOTD(s)

Two choice quotes today from Hack the Planet 2.0. They are actually from Wes Felter's notes of a talk given by Cory Doctorow at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference...

Consume But Don't Try Programming Anything (CBDTPA)

The role of technology is to provide opportunities for the entertainment industry, and the role of the entertainment industry is to seek injunctive relief from those opportunities.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:24 PM

Demographically Challenged

Imagine my surprise when I read of two of my favorite television shows:

WB is keeping its racier programs aimed more specifically to young women — including "Charmed," "Angel,"...

Jordan Levine

And what's with that 'racy' comment? Both shows are downright tame in the 'racy' department...

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:08 PM

May 13, 2002

Cantonese Film

I finished watching Shanghai 1920, and as this review notes, it is a mediocre film. The ending made me want to kick the screenwriters' butts. Pretty lame symbolism.

This week's Cantonese film is Her Majesty Is Fine (according to the program listing), or Good Luck, Empress Dowager! according to the subtitling. I've been unable to find any references to this film via Google or the Hong Kong Movie Database. The director is Tao Jin (Mandarin), or Tiu Gam (Cantonese). There is a list of movies for him, but not this one. So far it looks like an awkward period dramedy. I'll follow up when I've watched more...

Next week's entry, I Wanna Be Your Man sounds promising, but a quick check of the reviews makes it sound disappointing. I'm gonna guess that if it can show up on the International Channel, it's because the lease fee is cheap...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 PM

Nero Wolfe Is Back

I knew it was coming back, but missed the return. Hopefully they'll rerun the episodes I've missed, as this is one of my favorite shows, doing a creditable adaptation of the novels by Rex Stout. Maury Chaykin is excellent as Nero Wolfe, and Timothy Hutton is fine as Archie Goodwin.

My friend Burr was just saying today that this show had a single flaw, which was that they often tried to compress a story into a single episode, when in many cases two were required. So I was quite amused to see that the episode I watched tonight was part one of a two part story. Unfortunately, The Mother Hunt had one strike against it from the beginning: it was directed by Alan Smithee...

Smithee, after all, never existed. As all true film buffs now know, Alan Smithee (aka Allen Smithee and Allan Smithee) is a pseudonym for any director who disowned his or her movie, usually for reasons of artistic control. Instead of taking credit, the director would petition the Directors Guild of America for an Alan Smithee credit in exchange for a pledge not to disparage the film publicly.

John Levesque

Still, with a few flaws, this episode held out all the formulaic charm of the previous entries I've seen, and I intend to catch the second part once it airs. And I won't miss any more episodes, either!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:03 PM

Not the Only Elephant in the Herd

I walked down to the water cooler and heard no less than three people blowing their noses in just that way which I've been doing. I think I'm the biggest one, so I get to be the bull elephant!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 AM

Not Allergies

Not allergies, just a very good imitation in the early stages. Some kind of virus has invaded my body. It feels a little like a cold, but different. I'll do work for the morning, we'll see about the afternoon.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:57 AM

May 12, 2002

Allergies

Today really sucks. I've got allergies so bad that I really can't breath through my nose. I flushed my sinuses with saline solution, replaced the furnace filter and ran it all day. Not much help. I hope at least that it clears up enough that I can get a decent night's sleep. Wish me luck.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:12 PM

Book Report

Well, I've finished both Rare Earth & Life Everywhere. Took 'em both back to the library today. At the same time I picked up Mac OS X: The Missing Manual by David Pogue.

All the machines at home run Mac OS 8 or 9, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. One of the OS X sites I read keeps asking questions like "what application keeps you using Classic?" (where Classic refers to OS 9). I actually wrote back and replied that the 'application' which keeps me using OS 9 is OS X. Despite Steven Jobs' assertion that OS 9 is dead (for developers), OS X just ain't there yet. Not enough drivers for printers, scanners and such. Not an easy way to work between OS 9 and OS X boxes (since my 8500 can't run OS X, and it's not officially supported on my iBook). So anyway, the book is basically my way of keeping up with the future.

Getting back to the 'life in the universe' books... Rare Earth promotes the thesis that simple life, up to the level of bacteria, probably is ubiquitous, but complex life, eukaryotes, animals, are so rare that Earth is likely their only home. It is a somewhat long book, replete with citations, arguments and theorizing. Considering that the topic is largely full of unknowns, the book is of course all speculation, but the authors argue in the manner of a debating team in high school, seemingly believing that if they pile enough 'ifs' on top of each other, they will win the debate.

Life Everywhere is more clearly identified as speculation, though the author does seem to believe complex life will be found off Earth eventually. One chapter is even devoted to Rare Earth, taking the authors to task for their assertions in such a speculative field. Overall this is a lighter book, which was alternately more satisfying (since it made no claims to certainty), and more disappointing (since Rare Earth, whatever it's faults, was filled with detail and citations).

Next up in the reading queue besides Missing Manual is Breaking Windows, subtitled 'How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft'. Should be mildly interesting...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:04 PM

May 10, 2002

Birthday Hijinx

Wednesday was my birthday. I'm 0.045 millenia old! Jean and I have our birthdays exactly three weeks apart, with hers happening on the 29th of May, so we usually celebrate both our birthdays on the 29th. Since I already gave her her present, and had her open it so she could make sure it was okay during the 60 day warranty period, she decided that she wanted me to open a present 'early' too. But Wednesday was hectic, so we put it off to Thursday.

We barely had time for it Thursday either. I took Kelly out on a promised bike ride after work, then helped Jean (if I didn't actually just confuse her) with some of her homework. Then it was Kelly's turn for homework help, though I eventually abandoned her since she kept trying to turn it into 'play with Daddy'. Finally, after Kelly's bath, I opened a present (Jean's holding one in reserve for the 29th). It was Metal Gear Solid 2! I was exhausted last night, so I didn't try it out, but I'll probably give it a spin today. It's sort of funny, since I've barely scratched the surface with Metal Gear Solid on my PSOne.

Most fun for me was reminding Kelly how the parental birthdays work (both celebrated together). "No! You have to have a birthday too!" I said that was just because Kelly wanted two cakes, which she denied. Guess she gets to prove that, as I told Jean I didn't want a cake anyway. But she did get to see me unwrap a present, albeit a day late.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:36 AM

May 08, 2002

Bussing

Does everybody know this 'bussing' trick but me? I was at Wu's Open Kitchen with Brent and Burr for lunch today, when I looked over and noticed a waiter bussing a table. After he had it cleared, he took the tea pot from the meal and poured some tea onto the table. Then he cleaned up the remaining debris from the meal!

Am I sheltered? I've never seen this before. Cool trick, though.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:09 PM

Musical Tidbit

You read the strangest things on the Google News page. For instance, Queen tops the charts in Britain's all time favorite (favourite?) hits with Bohemian Rhapsody. Considering that Queen was ranked below only Led Zepellin by myself in high school, I'm actually rather pleased. And after years of overexposure, I'd rather listen to Bohemian Rhapsody than Stairway to Heaven .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 AM

To Sleep

Funny how much poetry is out there about getting a good night's sleep. Monday night sucked for sleep, and my productivity was truly stoo-peed! on Tuesday.

Went home a little early, took a nap, no thanks to Kelly! and muddled through the rest of the evening. Went to bed around 10pm, awoke 7am feeling great! Guess I understand that poetry better now.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM

May 06, 2002

Obscure Reference of the Day

Don't you just love it when people make an oblique, unlinked reference to something (Quartz Extreme) that not even Google returns a logical match on?

Update

As I suspected, Quartz Extreme is a method of accelerating display graphics for new Mac OS X boxes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:09 PM

Sunday

I actually ended up spending a lot of time one-on-one with Kelly Sunday, even factoring in my normal Sunday strength training session, which takes 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how I'm cooking. Jean took Kelly to church in the morning, and I did all my usual chores, but when they came back, I asked Kelly if she wanted to come to the library with me, as her request for the video Air Bud had arrived. My copy of Breaking Windows was in too. She was up for it, so off we went.

Too bad, Daddy. The library doesn't open for another hour! I was too fixated on getting all my errands and chores done early, and we jumped the gun. So I asked Kelly if she wanted to go home and wait, or come with me to Home Depot to pick up a new widget for the basement toilet, since the rod which pulls the plug had snapped recently. She asked the equivalent of "what's in it for me?" by wondering aloud if Home Depot had any toys or "stuff for kids". I said I wasn't sure, but if we found something for a couple of dollars, she could have it.

So off we went to Home Depot. Immediately on our entry to the store, Kelly saw the gardening section and fixated on the seeds. She's had pretty good success lately, with a bean sprout and flower bulb growing on the sill of our kitchen window. So I asked her to wait until I'd completed my mission and promised to come back to the seed section. I found the right hardware for the toilet pretty quickly, then went in search of:

Why? Because I've received notice that 'soon' I should be receiving my kit for a Gameboy Advance front-light. This is a 'hobbyist' kit, in that you put it together yourself, and that requires certain tools. Tom and I are going to put ours together at his place before NOVA some weekend after they arrive, and he has a Dremel tool, so I don't need that. My friend at work, Burr, has latex gloves (which I need to avoid getting finger oils on the light guide), so I don't need those. Turns out that latex gloves are good for changing oil in your car. That Burr, so fastidious! So that left the screwdriver for opening the case, and the soldering iron for attaching the power wires. I found them and we went off to buy some seeds.

Now if you've been following my little journal you know that Kelly never stops at 'yes'. I told her she could buy two dollars worth of seeds. She said, "why not three?" I said she could give me a dollar from her allowance if she went to three. It never stops. So we got our goodies, paid for them (where we had an interesting moment when Kelly asked the cashier if she was a man or a woman) and headed back to the library.

The library trip was uneventful, with Kelly stocking up on additional Pokemon videos for the afternoon at home. I succeeded in installing the widget in the downstairs toilet, thus paying the absolute minimum dues needed to maintain my membership in the Man Club. Time passed, we had lunch, I worked out, and then offered to go for a walk with Kelly before taking a shower. To my surprise, she jumped on it.

Earlier in the day she had found an old 'talking' watch which no longer talked because I'd been lazy about locating a replacement battery. Kelly decided it was a Clockstopper watch. So our agenda on our walk was to play store, where each utility housing for cable or phone becomes a storefront, and one of us the merchant. The twist was that she was going to use the 'Clockstopper' watch to freeze the 'merchant' and play pranks. This usually consisted of leaving the money in cute places, like balanced on my nose, then 'unfreezing' time.

So we took off, me with my straw cowboy hat (bad decision, too windy and cold) and Kelly with her bright red and grey watch. We played Clockstopper Store several times, and then we entered Little Woodrose Park. Boy was Kelly in explorer mode Sunday. We followed the groomed trail about a third of the time. The rest of the time we were diving off the clean wide path and through the brush, following the faintest weaving dirt path through the wood. I had to duck and hunch numerous times to get through places Kelly wanted to go. I got a workout all over again. Finally we headed home, stopping at several 'stores' on the way.

Too bad the day had to end on a bad note. Kelly and I were rough housing and she smacked my hand in such a way that she took a divot out of her finger. I went to the bathroom with her to fix it up, and when she saw it, she got mad at me and pegged me with a beachball. I told her that that was unacceptable, and she was confined to take a bath, brush her teeth and go straight to bed. She spent the rest of the evening engaging in activities designed to flaunt her unrepentant attitude. "Look, I found a bunch of Sailor Moon playing cards in the closet!" "Are you guys going to bed yet?" "I'm just going to play quietly in my room, okay?"

This morning I said goodbye to her, and I'm pretty sure she'd completely forgotten the whole episode. Still, if she pegs me in the head with her beach ball in a clear act of malice, I'm gonna 'ground' her again.

And that concludes the Sunday report!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:13 AM

May 05, 2002

Spider-Man

Saturday was a NOVA evening, so it was only natural that we'd go see Spider-Man afterwards. It was sold out for earlier shows, but the 10:10 show we attended wasn't. Overall, a very faithful rendering of the Spider-Man Origin story, and a decent rendition of one of his arch-enemies, the Green Goblin. Aside from the story, which was done in a fun way, the kinematics of the 'superhero action shots' were very impressive. Visually this was a fantastic movie. If you sniff at anything that isn't a descendant of Sense and Sensibility (which I liked just fine, thank you), you won't care for this movie. But for us comic book geeks, I think it's a hoot.

Afterwards, a group of us went to Banning's Pie House, since we knew we'd be chatting in the theatre parking lot otherwise. James ordered a banana split, which turned out to be huge, by my standards. I swear he mowed through that thing in ten minutes flat. He's an ice cream eating machine. The waitress, who'd already pleaded lack of sleep, came back to check on us, saw the empty split bowl, and did a silent double-take. Pretty amusing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:52 PM

At The YMCA!

Saturday I took Kelly to the YMCA for her art class and swim class. The art class isn't really a challenging opportunity to learn kiln-fired pottery, or to explore the intricacies of guache. In fact, it's more of an excuse to get Kelly out of the house doing something beside watch television on the couch. Plus it gets her interacting with other kids, which is usually a good thing. The swim class is for private lessons (sniff, sniff), so she can catch up with other kids her age this summer. Most of them are in 'Fish', but Kelly got a slow start and was in 'Minnow'. Her instructor recommended a few one-on-one tutoring sessions to help her work through her weak spots.

So we showed up and there were a ton of ambulances, fire engines and what not parked in the YMCA traffic circle. Kelly asked what it was about, but I didn't know and we needed to get her to her art class, so we raced on past. After her art class, Jean (who did the grocery shopping while Kelly and I were away) instructed me to make sure that Kelly had some food in her stomach before swimming class rolled around. Kelly wanted a 'picnic', so we went outside and sat on the grass. By this time, there was a 'safety house' trailer parked at the side of the parking lot, and it was clear that this was a community safety event. There were firemen, police and rescue workers all over the place.

One fireman was wearing a headset with a microphone, and holding a radio-control rig. He was driving a three foot tall red plastic fire hydrant. The top of the hydrant would raise up, revealing rolling eyes, and the base was the radio-control wheel set. He'd drive it around, and his voice would come out of a speaker on the hydrant. The hydrant also had a microphone so he could hear what people were saying. Lots of little kids were spooked by it, and Kelly was initially too. But she settled in and had a rather long conversation with the hydrant, until it was time for us to return for her swim class.

As she was headed inside, she told me "I really like Robbie the Fire Hydrant... And don't tell me anything about him." She sort of looked over to where the fireman was standing with the RC rig, so it was obvious that she knew the hydrant was a fake, but she wanted to sustain the fantasy.

Kelly's swim class went well, though she still needs to work on kicking while stroking with her arms. According to her teacher, she has a tendency to stop kicking when her head comes up, which causes her lower body to drop into the water, slowing her down for the next stroke. We've got one more private tutoring session, then there'll be a break until summer vacation. Jean's thinking of enrolling her in the 'Minnow' class, twice a week, and continuing the private tutoring once a week, for a total of three swim days a week. Good exercise too.

When she had gotten dressed after her class we headed toward the car, but Kelly wanted to go into the 'safety house'. I told her that she'd be in there awhile, as they were actually talking about safety and showing a safety video, but she still wanted to go. I swear she sat through the whole thing so that she would be allowed to go to the second floor and climb down the fire ladder. Anyway, as we were driving home, she told me that she'd had a really good time. I'm happy she got to do something different over the weekend, as her friend Trinity wasn't able to come over for a play date this time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:33 PM

May 03, 2002

New Pictures

Got some new pictures. Or rather old pictures. I donated some of my old video tapes to NOVA awhile ago, and Alan, the archivist, discovered these in the sleeve of one of the tapes. We probably still have the negatives somewhere, but I didn't want to hunt, so I scanned the prints in on the flatbed scanner. Hence the low quality.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing Kelly's about three years old in these images.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:57 PM

May 02, 2002

QOTD

The question is: as we globalize, is India Westernizing, or is America Indianizing?

Just maybe, you live in a nation of arrogant maharajas, sinister influence peddlers, dubious elections and corrupt accountants. With big software industries, and alarming gaps between the privileged and the underclass. Where multi-generational political dynasties reign over Congress, in a center of government bedevilled by Moslem terrorists. Is that your country? Really, pick any two.

Bruce Sterling

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:47 PM

May 01, 2002

Lapse

I avoided the donuts, but Burr and Robin persuaded me to go with them to Wu's Open Kitchen (get it? W.O.K.?). Shared family-style were Egpplant in Garlic Sauce, Twice-cooked Pork, and my personal favorite, Kung Pau Chicken. I didn't pig out, but of course one always eats more when dining at a restaurant. Should I skip dinner?

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:10 PM

Triumph of the Will

Whoo Hoo! I succeeded in ignoring the big box o' donuts by the coffee station until they were all gone!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:25 AM

What're You Watching?

As if the book reading overload wasn't enough, the cable folks added several new networks to our lineup yesterday, while playing musical chairs with the existing channels, screwing up all my presets -- why do they do that? On the plus side, my ReplayTV only needed to be pointed at the new organization, 'Tualatin - AT&T Broadband Rebuild', and it automatically shifted all my recording requests to their new channel locations!

Interesting new channel #1 would have to be the Food Network. I only really expect to seek out one show, because my friend Tom likes it so much: Iron Chef. We have had two episodes of an American remake, hosted by William Shatner, but this is the original show from Japan. A challenger chef squares off against a professional chef defending his title of 'Iron Chef', and each is given a key ingredient which they must incorporate into several recipes, to be tasted by the judges. The American show was sort of fun, but I really didn't like the 'sports commentator' format. We'll see how this show works out.

The other network I want to check out is the International Channel. I've already set the ReplayTV to record Fujisankei News, which we used to get subtitled on one of the news networks. But they dropped it, and I haven't had my fix of Japanese news programs for ages. It's a half hour every day, so I think I'll only record it once or twice a week. Just checking out their Japanese Programming, it looks interesting, but there are other things as well, such as the International Film Festival, that I'm looking forward to grazing on.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 AM

What're You Reading?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Been busy at work, and I've had a backlog of books from the library to work through at home. In addition to the Rare Earth book, I finally received the book Life Everywhere. Jean's reading it now, and I'm in line...

The 5.5 version of Photoshop 6 Artistry is looking good, and is the probable candidate for purchase. The Wow! book was too cluttered, and other books I've heard are good are not available at the library, so this one wins out of a field of two. It is good though.

Finally, another sci-fi series, by author Ken MacLeod. I'm reading the second book, Stone Canal, which is loosely connected to the first, The Star Fraction. I'd like to read the whole sequence before trying to record my impressions on the series. So far it's entertaining, but not as engrossing as the Peter F. Hamilton series was.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:00 AM

April 26, 2002

Jason X, the Serial Killer for Mac OS X!

I've never seen a single Friday the 13th movie before today. I'm honestly not all that enthusiastic about serial/supernatural killer franchises. But this one episode has Lexa Doig in it, whom I've got a tremendous crush on, and Lisa Ryder, who costars with Lexa in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, a show I follow on television. Add that the trailers looked deliciously cornball, and I had to go see it. I was fully cognizant that the production values looked low in the trailers, and that the writing would be non-existent, but forge ahead I did.

What does it say about the Jason franchise that they transplanted it into a cheap sci-fi space setting? What does it say about me that I'll watch it? Nothing you didn't already know, I trust. In any case, I've observed over the years that when a television science fiction show is nearing the end of it's run, they often transplant it to more mundane Earthbound settings. Witness Galactica 1980. Or just this year, Lexx.

So the apparent corollary to this rule is that when a movie horror series nears the end of it's life (we hope), it is transplanted to space. This does inject an element of (false) novelty, but ultimately, only self-mockery saves this movie from complete vapidity.

I was struggling for a description of this movie, until some two-thirds of the way through it, one of the characters did it for me. Trying to escape Jason with her crewmates, she is being sucked toward a hole in the ship punched by a cyber-pumped Jason. Losing her grip, doing her best to emote just a little in the pitiful script, she phones in her last line: "this sucks on so many levels."

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:38 PM

April 25, 2002

Web Serving for the Masses

For my personal enlightenment: Apache Web Serving With Mac OS X. I worked through the first section last night at work with my iBook, and was delighted to have the simple little page show up on my Sun workstation (via the skinny ethernet cable attached to my laptop). More whenever I have the time, courtesy of this everlasting link!

Kind of amusing, as I've become the go-to guy at work for SSH, and I just today spent a chunk of time getting an IRC server running on my machine, then testing it with a chat client written in Emacs Lisp, ZenIRC. The idea is to allow collaborative communication while working with shared desktops (all inside the firewall, so don't get all excited, industrial spies!).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 PM

More Flooding...

The flood gallery has been extended with new pictures sent by my sister. I take a morbid fascination in this because I lived there for too many years, and I don't live there now. Talk about Schadenfreude!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 PM

April 24, 2002

The Great Flood of 2002

Check it out! Images supplied by my sister Brenda of the flood around the environs of Wakefield, Michigan. Authentic history, guys!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:16 PM

Under Construction

Your patience is requested. I decided that since nobody was using the comment feature, and it slowed down template updates tremendously, that I'd disable it. Some other things like the calendar and the search items box seem munged, so I'm going to investigate when I have more time. In the meantime, the articles still seem available.

Gomen nasai...

Update: Things are back to normal. Apparently, if I want search and calendar I'm stuck with the messier file-per-article archives. Too bad.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:33 PM

Pessimism

I got a copy of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe from the library, and began reading it this weekend. It's a very interesting book so far, though page after page, from the very first is a litany of negatives: "oh sure, you can have bacteria all over the universe, no problem ... but here's why complex life just won't work."

A couple of years ago I used to work with a guy named Jeff. He was a very nice guy, good sense of humor, very sharp. But whenever I worked with him closely on a project, I was clearly reminded that I am not a pessimist, despite my tendency to think of myself that way. He was constantly finding the darkest lining behind every cloud, and had our product failing in the next quarter -- each quarter. Try as I could, I couldn't muster quite as much gloom as he could bring to bear.

So I was reading this book last night, and I had that same feeling. I'm willing to accept that the Drake equation was a bit naive, and probably missing a lot of variables. But in the first pages of this book, they've got a table FULL of obstacles to complex life. It really seems less like they are trying to get an accurate estimate than that they are gleefully stacking the deck against intelligent life.

Still, the authors are not the first to reason against intelligent life 'out there'. Between the Fermi Paradox and John Von Neumann's work on Automata, there is a pretty good argument that if there were aliens, they'd already be here. Of course, maybe they already are .

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:08 AM

April 23, 2002

Photoshop Book Hunt

I've been looking for a Photoshop 6.0 book to ease me into the world of the power user, since reading the manual alone doesn't give you a good idea of the synergies achieved by combining the various facilities in the product. Since the books about Photoshop tend to run $50 apiece, I've been previewing them with the help of the local library. Most library editions are a version or two behind the one I have.

I started by skimming the 5.5 version of the Photoshop 6 Wow! Book, which a number of Photo.neters recommend. Bottom line is that it may be rich in information, insights and tips, but the layout makes me shudder. I remember when Wired magazine first came out, and I couldn't ever bring myself to buy it because the layout, colors and typography looked like it had been designed by a manic chimpanzee. This book has the same feel. If these folks know Photoshop, wouldn't they know anything about information design? I think they need to read some Tufte.

Next on the plate is the 5.5 version of Photoshop 6 Artistry. It's too soon to say, as I've just barely cracked the book, but it already seems easier on the eye and less of a direct assault on the brain. I'll update more here as I discover things.

Final note, for my own reference, is this overview article, Photoshop Crash Course.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:05 AM

April 22, 2002

Movie Weekend

This was a weekend for movies. Friday, I took time off and went to see The Rookie with Jean. She was disappointed with it. Overall, I'd call it a magnificent failure. Once again I've found proof that baseball can be interesting when embedded into a larger story, though this time I was clearly bored whenever they dwelt lovingly on a game.

Saturday was NOVA, and the after-meeting movie was Scorpion King. As usual, the company you keep makes all the difference. The consensus was that this was a movie that didn't need to be made, but we had fun making fun of it afterwards (and during as well, I'm sorry to admit). Even so, my years of training in suppressing my good taste by watching Hong Kong movies paid off, and I was able to enjoy myself.

Sunday, Kelly and I went to see Clockstoppers, which was unremarkable, inoffensive, and suitable for a seven-year old's notions of science fiction. It was a little too slow at the start, as Kelly was playing bouncy-bouncy on her seat. But eventually the gosh-wow kicked in, and Kelly and I spent the remainder of the day thinking of innocent pranks we could play on folks from 'hypertime'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:51 PM

April 18, 2002

Floods In The Upper Peninsula

I did several years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and my dad still stays there in the old homestead in Wakefield for part of the spring and summer. So I was somewhat concerned when I heard on the radio that Ironwood, Michigan has been declared a disaster area due to flooding. Parts of Wakefield are flooded as well. So I called him as soon as I got to work. Turns out that his end of town is dry, and the end near Sunday Lake is under water. "We can't get out of Wakefield."

They're scheduled to move on to Canada in a few days, but only if the roads are open. Wish 'em luck. I guess my sister is able to get outta Dodge via the back roads.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 AM

April 17, 2002

Bookwatch

Another purchase note for future reference. Two books, representing Point - Counterpoint:

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee. The link is to a review written on Slashdot. In his conclusion, the author notes another book:

Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology. Amusingly enough, search for either of these books on Amazon, and they give you the option to buy both of them bundled together. Which I might do .

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:14 PM

April 16, 2002

Not All Writing Is Outlining

It's common for people who have never used an outliner to say they don't like them. This is really unfortunate, because often they've used software that says it's an outliner, but is not.

Dave Winer

Well Dave, I've used an outliner. I've used your outliner. I think working in an outliner, in the general case, sucks. Lest you think I haven't gotten your religion because I just haven't tried it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:06 PM

Intelligent Design

In what is more of a note to myself, I mention Intelligent Design: Creationism and It's Critics, edited by Robert T. Pennock. Why? Because I might want to read it sometime, but my Amazon Wish List

is 'locked down' as I annotated several entries with birthday notes, and showed Jean how to select for 'most recently modified' to find them. If I add this book, will it prevent Jean from seeing my B-day prefs? Dunno, so I'll not risk it till after B-day...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:09 PM

April 15, 2002

The Phantom Edit

I forgot to mention that Bob, a coworker and fellow member of NOVA, lent me a copy of Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit. This is a re-edit of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace by an anonymous editor, attempting to improve the original film by tightening the storyline and removing extraneous scenes. As the source material for this edit was the released VHS video tape, of course the mysterious editor could not add scenes, so the film has been shortened by twenty minutes:

Twenty minutes have been cut from the original 133, and as a result the film is tighter and faster. Jar-Jar, who has been demoted to an almost silent supporting role, is actually enjoyable.

As I've paid in the theatres twice to see the movie, I didn't feel too guilty about watching this alternative cut. I already deleted it from my hard drive, since it's hardly pivotal work. I agree that the movie is tighter, and that Jar-Jar is almost tolerable now. Kelly watched the second half with me, and seemed to like it. When we went ot see Ice Age there was a trailer for Episode II, and Kelly said "we've seen that already."

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:14 PM

Master of Delays

After working out on the Bikeler and the Bowflex yesterday afternoon I took a shower, threw on some clothes and wandered into the living room. Kelly was watching some Disney Channel show and I wandered over to the window. It looked nice out, so I decided to go for a walk, at 6:20pm. Kelly twigged to this through her tv haze, and jumped up. "Me too!"

So we both got ready, and as usual, with Kelly it was one thing after another. By the time we reached the door it was 6:40pm. I told her we were going to walk around the block and then straight home, since it would be time for her bath and I wanted a snack to replace my missing dinner. Kelly agreed, and bargained to play her favorite game on the walk, 'store'. She stands on the edge of the sidewalk, next to utility boxes, and pretends they are stores and she is the merchant, selling kitty toys and such to me, a passerby. Perhaps you can understand the potential for delay here.

The walk itself turned into a visit with three neighborhood kitties. Kelly was enchanted, alternately following them and leading them around. We never did get to walk around the block. At 7:15 I called time, and Kelly said "but I want to go for a walk." Whoops! Let the stalling begin. "Can I stay outside?"

"No Kelly, unless you want to play in the back yard."

"What about the front yard?"

"No, that faces the street. Any crazy person could just drive up and nab you."

"We never got to play store."

"Okay, we can play store once before I go inside to get my snack."

"But I want to play a few times..."

Eventually, I got her to settle on playing store once, which she dragged out into a five minute affair. Then she played out back while I filled her bathtub, and we got back on schedule. But man! Is she the master of delays or what!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:02 AM

Ice Age

On the bright side, Kelly and I went to see Ice Age, finally! It was quite a lot of fun. It wasn't the laugh-a-minute riot of Emperor's New Groove, but that squirrel was a hoot. I was definitely laughing noisily during the closing sequence. Recommended for adults and kids.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:48 AM

FFX Spoilers?

Dunno if I crossed the line yesterday and gave too much info for Tom, who occasionally reads this weblog and also plays FFX. If so, sorry. This is another gripe, but pretty spoiler free. Just wanna observe that in the afternoon I bulldogged it and played again, three more times, finally beating the thing, just barely, on the third try.

And what happens? The game sweeps me off to battle again, with no intermediate save! And I got killed again! Now I have to go back to the stupid worm! Man does that cheese me!

Make that a three week layover...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:44 AM

April 14, 2002

The Red Carpet Has Teeth

I may be eternally stuck at my current point in Final Fantasy X. I'm still on the airship, fighting a 32,000 HP boss monster, which has tons of nasty 1,000 HP attacks, without Yuna and her Aeons. This monster is called Evrae, and is the guardian of the city of Bevelle. Hence Auron's commentary about the red carpet. I tried to beat it three times this morning, and never got it below 18,000 HP before my party was killed off entirely.

I've since done the usual queries at Gamefaqs.com, and like the Iron Giants in Macalania, the advice is "this is a hard fight". Except for one faq states which states, rather insultingly, I think: "Oh my god, this fight was way too simple! Don’t worry about his HP, Evrae is a total wuss."

I usually burn out for awhile after my party gets killed, and I was determined to force myself to fight a few times and try variations of attacks, so I got in three today. But the bad taste in my mouth will probably lead to a layoff of a week or more. We'll just have to see...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:01 AM

April 13, 2002

Game Waltz

About a week has elapsed since I last played Final Fantasy X. I got through Home after getting killed a couple of times, boarded an airship, and headed out to find Yuna. Then, whatta ya know, another boss monster to fight. Got killed on the airship, put the game away.

As an alternate, I resurrected Resident Evil, sorta to pay homage to my recent Asian Zombie musings. Once again, I had the experience of being slow. I had the original RE, without 'auto-aim', so I was constantly flailing with the controller trying to get a scope on the zombies and zombie doggies. Got chomped and killed numerous times. Then I was doing a search for hints on Gamefaqs.com and came across the mention of 'auto-aim'. Seems that in later versions of the game, you can set things so that pressing R1 will cause your character to auto lockon to a zombie so you are free to shoot.

A short trip to Fry's was rewarded by finding Resident Evil Director's Cut, Dual Shock Edition on the shelf cheap, so I bought it. Yesterday evening I tried it out. Same story, same setting, same artwork, but the controller layout was so much easier. And auto-aim saved my bacon several times. So I don't know if I'll be able to complete the game or not, but I'm certainly going to get farther.

As for FFX, I think I will try to get through the airship scenario once this weekend, time permitting. But I have to admit, it's more fun moving the story ahead than it is fighting ever bigger monsters. I wish there was an 'easy' setting so I could just waltz through that sort of thing and immerse myself into the storyline. Oh, well, can't have everything.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:45 PM

April 10, 2002

Creeping Camera Disease

Days away from receiving my present for Jean's birthday, a used Nikon FM2n full manual SLR. Jean learned photography on this camera (or more accurately, the FM2, which preceded the FM2n by a couple of years) when she worked as an editor on the Multnomah Athletic Club's in house magazine. Seeing my Nikon N80 reminded her of the fun, so I told her I'd try to get her one (FM2's are hard to come by now, so I settled for the more recent FM2n).

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:51 AM

Asian Zombies

I've seemingly got a weakness for cheesy Asian zombie movies, as witnessed by my posession of Wild Zero and Bio-Zombie. But a convincing simulation of gore and evisceration isn't the attraction for me. Rather it is the offbeat juxtaposition of pop culture with the 'classical' Romero zombie ouvre that grabs me. Hence rockabilly bands versus zombies in Wild Zero, zombies invading the mall (and elsewhere) in Bio-Zombie, and the healthy dose of self-mocking in both films.

Which is why I've never been able to convince myself to buy a copy of Junk: Lost Soul Hunting. That movie definitely has the goof factor I enjoy, in this case a gang of jewel thieves have the bad luck to choose an 'abandoned' warehouse to hide out in, only to discover that it houses a secret military installation where biological experiments have gone awry, producing ravenous zombies. Geez, why does that sound familiar? In any case, while the story seems to have the goof factor, it also, to judge by the screen shots I've seen, has a deep fascination with gore. Way, way too much gore. So I'll have to pass.

Now looms on the horizon another possibility. On April 26th, the DVD release of Versus arrives. An escaped prisoner meets with yakuza in a forest. Unfortunately the forest is 'The Forest of Resurrection', one of 666 portals between this world and the next. Sounds sorta like Evil Dead in that respect. Reviews are really mixed on this one, but I've gone quite awhile without an Asian zombie fix, so I'll probably take the chance and add it to my small collection.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:25 AM

Revolutionary Test Kitchen

I knew the banner picture of Kelly's cookie taste test reminded me of something:

Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:20 AM

April 09, 2002

eXistenZ

The SCIFI channel was showing David Cronenberg's eXistenZ last night, so I watched it. I've been a fan of Cronenberg for almost as long as he's been making movies, and I missed this one, since like Crash (based on a novel by J. G. Ballard) it was only released to a theatre downtown.

Cronenberg specializes in movies which question our reality, or acts which define the boundaries of our humanity. He is to film what Philip K. Dick was to the written word. Unfortunately, this movie ends up looking more like an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story than an original Cronenberg work. By the end it was almost heavy-handed, something Cronenberg has been guilty of before. Cronenberg movies are best when they tread the line between hyperbole and unspoken implication.

This hasn't put me off Cronenberg, and indeed I'm looking forward to his next movie, currently titled Spider, based on the novel by Patrick McGrath.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 AM

April 08, 2002

Shrines

Don't try to take a bath without advance planning, if you have a six-year old in the house. If not, you will end up stepping on the Little Mermaid, sitting on paper-clip necklaces, or resting your head on the Animal Shrine. (each situation has happened, I'm not making this stuff up)

As an aside, the fuziness of this image is one reason I wanted to experiment with a film camera. The turnaround time to image availability is slower, but the image quality can be much crisper. Here we see the result of using the digital camera hand-held with f4 aperture (the fastest available aperture at full zoom). Add a slow shutter speed (gather that dim light), and hand shake was inevitable. With the Nikon N80 (film camera) and the 50mm f1.8 lens, I might get a better shot of this sort of thing. We'll see...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 PM

America's Test Kitchen

No, it's not a ransom note; this month's banner is of Kelly participating in a cookie taste test. America's Test Kitchen has become something of a favorite in our house, and Jean decided to prepare a cookie recipe (chocolate chip) three different ways, and have us test taste them.

The main variation was to use cake flour, bread flour and regular flour. Kelly was adamantly offended by the cake-flour cookies, and seemed to prefer the bread-dough cookies. I was more mildly unimpressed by the cake-flour cookies, and I'm sure I'll eat them until they're gone. As for the other two, they were both good, but merely different from each other. One tasted saltier, and the other tasted more buttery.

Jean get's major coolness points for trying this out and holding the taste test. Kelly certainly enjoyed the excuse to eat three cookies in one sitting!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 PM

The New Camera

Here it is, a photo of my new camera, ironically taken with my Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:13 PM

Moyer Visit

From the last visit, I've collected a handful of images taken with my digital camera. Now you know what they look like!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 PM

April 06, 2002

Big Trouble

I saw Big Trouble yesterday. I'd call it a B grade effort, since it misses as often as it hits. It's from that much-cherished (by me) genre of 'comic crime', and the broad hints of such in trailers are what led me to go see it. I only found out while watching the credits that it was based on a novel by Dave Barry.

See, if Carl Hiaasen had written it, it would have been a much funnier movie. Oops, forget I said that. I almost forgot that Carl Hiaasen wrote Striptease, which was made into a mostly embarassing movie starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds (among others).

So if you like the genre, it's worth a matinee ticket, but don't rush to see it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:41 PM

Camera Hijinx

Well, I have been soundly spanked by fate. Jean took Kelly to swim and art classes at the Y today, so I did the grocery shopping, then hauled my camera and the used zoom lens to Camera Works for an assessment. After a couple of minutes of fiddling, the woman announced that the lens wasn't meant for my camera. "But I thought Nikon lenses were compatible across cameras?"

My still ignorant take on this is that the material I've read is ambiguous. It seems from what I saw today that newer lenses will usually work on older cameras, though of course not with all their features. But in at least this case, an older lens won't work with a newer camera. She demonstrated this to me by mounting the zoom on three separate bodies, both manual and autofocus, and successfully snapping photos with each.

So I sold the lens there at a small loss, and took it as a rather stern lesson not to let my enthusiasm overcome my judgement. Until I get a lot more familiar with the camera and it's gear, I'll stick to a store where I can actually ask questions and interact. I'll probably even take my camera in with me and shoot a roll with the desired lens (and develop it) before buying it.

I wonder how long it will take me to backslide on that resolution.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:32 PM

April 05, 2002

Trusting Soul

This may be the first time I've gotten burned by Ebay. As you may recall, I bought a 80-200mm F2.8 zoom lens from some photographer, who'd claimed it had just undergone routine maintenance by Nikon certified tech. I've got the lens now, and the optics are flawless. No scratches, dirt, fungus or embedded fluff. However, try as I might, I can't get it to work with my N80. I can sight through the viewfinder, zoom and focus, just fine. But when it comes to snapping the shutter, the camera won't let me.

It's not the camera, which works fine with my 50mm F1.8 lens. But the camera doesn't like the zoom, flashing an error notice whenever it is turned on with this lens. So in the next week or two I'm going to try to take it to Camera Works in Beaverton for an estimate on fixing it. They were recommended by a woman at the camera store where I bought the camera. If that doesn't work, or seems too expensive, Jean remembers a good shop downtown, called Pro Photo Supply. Farther away, but recommended by my spouse. Hmmm. Maybe I should just skip Camera Works and go directly to Pro Photo.

In any case I'm not in a panic or a hurry. I got the lens relatively cheap, and I already have a functional camera/lens setup. I just wanted to have a general purpose zoom (though rated rather highly) for the occasional road trip to the coast. Too bad my one bad experience with Ebay had to be over this.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:16 PM

Love and Death

I returned to FFX today. Made some progress, then got killed. Then Kelly heard that I'd been playing and insisted that I play through my dinner. I played with a dinner tray in front of me. That's proof of my being a good father, right? I got past the last point where my group got killed, reached a save point, and moved on. Then I got cocky, in the Al Bhed city, Home. Defeated some Guado, then moved on to the next fight without healing everybody up. Big mistake. Dead again.

Kelly was angling to stay up late by getting me to play longer, but by the time I reached that second death scene, she was ready for her bath. Now everybody's asleep but me. I plan to read the Photoshop 5/5.5 Wow! Book. I checked it out from the library to decide if I wanted to buy the Photoshop 6.0 version of the book for my personal library. Still to be decided...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM

April 04, 2002

Streamin' an' Dreamin'

I'm back on the headphones, listening to Japan-A-Radio. It's pretty cool having music from Japan streaming over the headphones while I tinker. It remains to be seen how streaming works when I'm doing something demanding like Photoshop, which can easily eat up half my memory (and who knows how much CPU).

Kelly was here a moment ago sharing a second set of headphones, but mean old Mom dragged her away to do homework. Kelly wanted to know if I would pause it. "Sorry, it's like radio, not normally pausable." I think she's thinking it's like my ReplayTV, where I can pause live programming. But I've tried it, and pausing a stream (at least with iTunes) just rebuffers the stream when you press play again. Too bad for her...

The downside now is that I've got three pairs of portable walkman-style headphones, and two pairs are on their last legs. Guess I'll have to spring for another pair so Kelly and I can share and both have decent sound...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:09 PM

Miscellaneous

My shoulder is finally returning to full functionality. I've still got minor limits on my 'head rotation factor', but overall, no complaints. I no longer lose sleep by waking up from shoulder pain when I roll over.

So I said to myself, 'how can I degrade my sleep? I know, I'll play Resident Evil before bed! And to make it easier, I'll buy a PSone with bundled LCD screen to set by my bedside table.' Add headphones, and voila!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 AM

April 03, 2002

Dough-nial

Okay, it's not a miracle, and I can always backslide, but...

Big box of donuts, glazed, chocolate covered, cream-filled, sitting at the coffee area. I looked at them all, and decided that none of them appealed to me.

Maybe the spare tire will disappear someday!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

April 02, 2002

Internet Radio

I had one of those Tickle-Me-Elmo moments this morning. I'd read yesterday about a streaming radio station called Japan-A-Radio, which plays anime music and J-pop! Gotta love it. Anyway, I got Kelly set up for breakfast, and sat down at the computer to check it out.

The second song they played was the OP from Gundam MS 8th Team. That perked me right up. I'll be listening to these guys more in the future!

The only rub is of course the looming CARP ruling, which is aimed at snuffing out internet radio by charging usurious licensing fees for music. Here's an example: SomaFM already pays ASCAP and BMI licensing fees to the tune of $1000 a year, representing fair compensation to the artists. CARP would require them to pay an additional $1000 a day! I find it hard to believe this is fair. Yech.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:59 AM

April 01, 2002

Next Year's Timesink?

Linking to this review for my own reference, much as I did for The Lost. Whenever I find a game which is unusual and seems like it might appeal to me, here it goes...

This one is very unusual. It is a blending of Disney characters and Squaresoft characters into one adventure game. It is called Kingdom Hearts. Read the review if you're interested.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:25 PM

April Idiots

Ya know, April 1st really sucks. April Fools pranks fall into the same category as the Trick in Trick or Treat. Somebody with a cruel streak managed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes and portray their vandalism as 'just fun and games.' "Where's your sense of humor?"

That charge might stick better if any of this cruft was funny. It's really boring to read a news site and recognize that one of the articles is a carefully crafted nutlog. Even if it's only once a year, do you really want to tell a regular reader 'hunt for the fake news article'? That's like going into a deli and being told, "I spit in one of the soups, but the others are just fine. Really, it's just for fun, relax!"

If you get the urge, just don't post today, please.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:59 PM

What a Game!

Jeez, has it really been two months since I last played FFX? "Forgive me, Maester, for I have slacked. It has been two months since my last FFX session." I've played other games, such as Black & White, but due to the recent greedy influx of toys, I've been too distracted to do a session with old, reliable Final Fantasy X.

Perhaps another reason was game apprehension. In my last couple of sessions I'd just succeeded in escaping intact from Macalania Woods, after getting killed trying several times. Since I've been browsing several sites looking for interesting FFX links, I stumbled onto a spoiler for what was to come, and knew there was a big fight coming up. It certainly seemed bigger than the Woods.

Since Tom and Alan and James and others get together once a week to play through some FFX, and Tom occasionally reads this weblog, I won't discuss what happened, but yes, I did get killed the first time I tried to play out this particular scenario. However, I immediately tried again, and succeeded. Yuna has a new Aeon, and it is really cool! So I'm happy, and I'll try to play more often, though the other distractions are still there.

At the rate I'm playing, Tom and the gang should pass me by in no time, and then I can talk freely about my little virtual victories...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 AM

Spam Loop

Pretty funny. Yahoo attempted to slip one by it's users, including me, by changing it's marketing preferences pages without notifying users. They claim now that notices would have gone out by email soon to let people know that they could adjust their preferences (from the default: "Please spam me!!!! ... A LOT!!!"). Being a big weblog browser, I heard about it before it hit the news, and promptly adjusted my preferences.

The truly funny part is that my 'marketing information' lists as my email address: don_wakefield@yahoo.com. Not my personal email account. So they'd be spamming their own mailboxes. Funnier still is that they'd cancelled my email account due to inactivity on my part (not surprising since I only ever used it as the reply-to address when I feared I'd get spammed by someone).

Make no mistake. I'm not a customer of Yahoo. These are free services, and they have to pay for them somehow. But trick spamming is not the answer. The only blessed solitary service I use from Yahoo now is the NOVA mailing list, which was originally part of eGroups, before Yahoo bought it. If Yahoo asked me to pay, in lieu of advertising, and the price was reasonable (our average volume is around twenty messages a month, with peaks of a hundred when people are feeling cranky), I'd just buy it. I think $10 or $20 a year would be fair for such low volume.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 AM

Panic Room

Friday afternoon, in honor of Easter, I took the afternoon off and saw a movie (before I messed up my shoulder). The movie in question was The Panic Room. It was one of the better Hitchcock pastiches I've seen in awhile, and I think David Fincher did a better Hitchcock than even Brian DePalma did. It could easily be done as a play, since the set is limited to a house, and focuses a lot on one room--the Panic Room.

Speaking of Hitchcock, the great directory often referred to a device, which he called a McGuffin. It was a gimmick which "drives the logic of the plot, especially in suspense films." The Panic Room is certainly that. When I saw the previews I thought it looked silly, and it is that, but only in the best Hitchcock tradition. Like many modern tributes, it occasionally rings hollow, and sometimes seems awkwardly anachronistic, but overall it worked pretty well.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:17 AM

Cold Shoulder

The Shoulder Pain Bar Chart was a bit too optimistic. Put Monday's bar midway between Saturday and Sunday. But it's still an improvement. In a day or two, I'll start using 5 lb. handweights to start strengthening the affected area again. The damaged muscles will still be damaged, but the supporting stabilizers will benefit from the exercise.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:09 AM

March 31, 2002

Death

In my email box this weekend is a note from Mike Wendell (and his family). He was one of my closest friends throughout high school, and we've kept in touch sporadically since then. The email was the sad sort. His dad died, pancreatic cancer. This is nasty stuff, and I'm both sorry to hear he had it, and glad that it is over for him. This is not the nicest way in the world to go.

I can still remember when my mom died. It actually came as something of a surprise to me, despite having received a lot of clues in the final months. I'm generally rotten about writing letters, and don't work too hard to keep in touch with family members. So when my dad called to let me know that she'd died, I was confused. Surely it couldn't have been that bad.

I flew back to Michigan, and Jean came with me. I was pretty stoic through the whole thing, and other than the somberness of the occasion, I didn't really feel anything. We flew home, unpacked, and I sat on the futon and cried. It just came out of me. And that was pretty much it. I think of my mom now and then, wonder what she'd think of Kelly, but I don't feel blue. She had a pretty full life and she was always busy, meeting every new stranger as a potential friend. No, she wasn't perfect, but she was very friendly and open, and so garrulous I should suspect that I was adopted.

So to Mike, whom I've written to separately in reply, I wish healing and a full life. I think his dad had some rough times, but I hope he had a lot of good times too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:10 PM

House of Pain

I pulled a muscle in my left shoulder late Friday, and almost didn't notice it until the following day. My pain profile looks sorta like:

Anyway, I didn't take many Easter photos as a result, since I was pretty much a walking zombie on Sunday morning. Breakfast and three aspirin later and I was able to move, slowly. After a bit of warming up and a hot bath I could move with tolerable pain.

We just got back from the book store, where Jean bought a few books with money I gave her (in the form of a Borders gift card) last Christmas! I looked at books, mostly to see if I could find something to explain to me how to use the zoom lens I bought. I can focus it, but can't seem to get the camera to take pictures.

The big highlight is that Kelly brought her hard-earned allowance and bought herself something with it. She ended up buying a stuffed animal, after agonizing for the longest time. But she certainly feels proud to have done the purchase with her own money.

Here's hoping that tomorrow the pain is diminished, at least enough that it doesn't take me an hour to get my body flexible enough to drive a car.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:39 PM

March 28, 2002

Blade II

If you've seen Blade, and you haven't seen Blade II (and intend to), you might want to skip this post. It might ruin it for you. Not because this post is a spoiler. Yes it talks about some of the plot, but it doesn't really give anything away. After all, this is a formula movie. C'mon. Anyway, skip now if you need to.

Still with me? Okay, I was watching this movie, and something occurred to me. You know how in the first movie, toward the end, Blade gets his butt handed to him? He's lying there all limp, he's lost a lot of blood, and you know he's down for the count? Then the helpful heroine volunteers to refuel him with her own blood so he can go on to save the world! Ba TADA TA tah, ta TAAAH!

Well, no surprise here, something similar happens in this movie. He's down for the count folks. He's lost a lot of blood, a lot of blood. Boy howdy is he looking ragged. Even if somebody bails him out of his current situation, how's he gonna stand up long enough to look at the bad guy cross-eyed? This time Whistler drags him that extra mile, and dumps him in a helpfully placed pool of refreshing blood, kept in store by the vampire nation as, what? A spa? Dunno.

Moments after current mini-boss vampire Ron Perlman has dismissed him as drowned in blood (hel-LO-o, half VAM-pire??!!), and turned his back on the pool, out rises Blade, looking tougher than ever, doing full-body knuckle cracking and getting ready for a rematch. We've been here before.

Now the secret. Stop reading now if this sort of movie is important to you (is it to anyone?). When that key scene comes up, imagine Blade is Popeye, and the pool of blood is a giant can of spinach. Spice things up by humming the Popeye recovery theme ditty (Ba TADA TA tah, ta TAAAH!). When the movie ends, walk out singing: I'm strong to the finish, 'cause I eats me bloo-ood, I'm vampire slaying Blade!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:07 PM

Zoom!

Cool! According to my Fedex tracking number, my Ebay purchase of a used Nikon 80-200 2.8 ED AF

zoom lens is in Portland! This should be the final camera hardware purchase for awhile. One good prime and one good zoom will do. Someday in the future a prime telephoto in the portrait range may be in order, but not for now.

Late Update: I had it shipped to work, and it's here! Peeking through the back end it looks like it may need a visit to the Nikon service center, but it's functional, so at bargain-basement prices, I won't complain. Can't wait to try it out. Maybe this weekend.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:32 AM

March 27, 2002

Dental Sojourn

By the way, I had my second round of jaw-numbing cleaning and disinfecting. Feeling has returned, and while I'm not allowed to eat 'challenging' foods for a couple of days, I've gotten the hang of things this second time around, and had some split pea soup on hand.

I even had an annoying divot filled in. It was originally caused by eating a peach and accidentally biting down on a fragment of the pit hidden in the fruit. Instant chipped lower tooth, and a ding in the back of my upper tooth. It was developing into a cavity, and just having that hole there right in front of my tongue was very irritating. I was constantly brushing against it. Right now, the filling itself is annoying me, as it is a composite, and somewhat rough. I guess I just can't win.

So I go back in three months to have the healing measured, but otherwise I'm off the hook for awhile. At least until I bite another peach pit.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:56 PM

QOTD

Dave Winer imagining what Michael Eisner actually thinks:

I had my own revelation about Eisner's argument. I think I can boil it down to its essence. It goes something like this: "We remember the days, not long ago, when our users were stupid. They thought they were giving money to the artists. We want them to be stupid again."

Dave Winer

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:39 PM

March 26, 2002

More Wet Fusion

Pascale Soleil, whose website, both2and, I mentioned (rather the category artificialNature located there) when I first heard about wet fusion, has been kind enough to send me a pointer to a new followup article:

Cold Fusion Rides Again, publishes the sordid tale of the struggle between two communities of scientists. One community wishes to explore the new, unconventional, possibly incorrect ideas mentioned in the original article. The other community seems not to be content with merely challenging the findings, but wishes to suppress them entirely. This is a grand example of the reality of science, governed by human beings, versus the myth of science, the vast impartial hand sweeping away the fog of history.

Kinda reminds me of a few businesses I know. As I was commenting to my wife just the other night, "they stay in business in spite of themselves!".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:25 PM

First SLR Photos

I already posted a small sample of scanned images from the N80. I chose two to have blown up to 8X10's, and they were ready last night. They're not tack sharp, but then they were spontaneous, rather than set up and posed. I'll trade sharpness for spontaneity any day. And the photos were taken on full automatic, the day after I bought the camera, so I hope even the spontaneous shots get sharper with time. The chosen photos were this one and this one.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 AM

Quid Pro Quo

Listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, I heard a story about the National Toy Hall of Fame, specifically, that they haven't inducted Raggedy Ann, which is somehow 'controversial'. Certainly the people circulating the petition and the 'officials' for the museum seemed exercised about the topic, in a prissy sort of way.

More amusing was the reporter's little setup: "The toy industry is a multibillion dollar business, so you would expect the Toy Museum to be a sprawling building with thousands of displays." Huh? Dude! It's in Salem, Oregon, that's a clue. It's a petting zoo!

The only reason I can think for this 'color story' to get on the air is that Oregon Public Broadcasting is an affiliate of NPR, and it was their turn.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:02 AM

March 24, 2002

Capsule Review

I just finished watching Young and Dangerous. Another Hong Kong crime film not deserving of a full review, but mildly entertaining. The Mei Ah DVD is a mediocre transfer, with fixed subtitles (looks like a burned-in font). The story is reminiscent of A Better Tomorrow, and like ABT, spawned a number of sequels. However, I'd have to say that ABT, directed by John Woo and starring Chow Yun Fat, was head and shoulders better, even if it was melodramatic and heavy-handed at times.

Follow the link if you're curious. Suffice to say it's a triad film (The Godfather in Hong Kong), told from the viewpoint of several of the young turks working for the established bosses. All the HK triad movies are generally over the top, and this is in the same vein, though a bit subdued at times. It was an okay way to kill an evening.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 PM

March 23, 2002

Photos and Site Mods

Nobody needs the 'Welcome' entry anymore, right? I axed it. The new banner photo is one of five I scanned in from my new Nikon N80. Click on the link for the gallery. I'm going to try having the last two made into 8X10's. It probably won't work since one of the negatives is already scratched. But by God, I'm gonna try!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:37 PM

March 21, 2002

I Can Feel My Lips!

Nearly four hours after the last injection of novacaine, the feeling is returning to my lips. They're still rubbery, and trying to bring my teeth together feels like clacking castinets, but I think I've crossed the threshold.

I think it took this long due to getting a larger than usual dose. My upper teeth took longer to get numb, supporting my experience over a decade ago when a dentist ended up pulling one of my molars with almost no pain killer since he couldn't get the novacaine to work. Thankfully, this time there was enough effect that I didn't really feel the probes when she was planing the roots.

I have to go through this again next week for the right side, but then things should settle down again. Watching her 'inject' the militarized tetracyclin was a hoot. Little hooked turkey basters full of the drug, on the end of a big steel plunger. I nearly laughed when I saw that.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:06 PM

March 20, 2002

Morning Dentistry

I'm going in tomorrow morning to get several teeth 'scaled and disinfected'. The pockets around select teeth are too deep and they want to take preventative measures. In addition, they are using a new treatment, which involves what I call 'militarized tetracycline'. It's been powdered in such a way that it creeps down into the pocket, then forms a gel which slowly releases the antibiotic over a couple of weeks, killing remaining bacteria in the pocket. According to Dr. Kierkegaard (yes, her real name), this has been shown to add 1-2 millimeters to the healing.

So anyway, they're going in with novacaine, and working the problem teeth on one side of my jaw tomorrow, then doing the ones on the other side next week. At the same time (tomorrow) I'm getting a defect in one of the teeth repaired. It was a pit in the back of one of my incisors that they tell me was a natural formation, but which has worn down with time and needs to be filled. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:06 PM

Baby Steps

Well, I couldn't stand waiting until tomorrow to see if the dang thing works, so I ran over to Fred Meyer and go the correct batteries. After a bit of fumbling, I got the lens installed, ran through the 'baby-steps' introduction to the camera, put it in full auto, and took about 12 photos of the den, pointing into the dark closet, directly at the lamp, and so on, with and without flash. The camera was happy to tell me when it could and couldn't get the shot, and it was cool seeing f8, f2, f1.8 show up in the viewfinder as it adjusted the aperature for various lighting conditions.

Of course, it remains to be seen just how clear the pictures are. I'll take some daylight shots tomorrow, and try to use up the 24 exposure roll of Kodak Royal Gold 400 before the end of the week, just so I can get quickie development of this first test roll and see how good it is at low-light photography. They say that f1.8 is the second brightest lens you can get, with f1.4 costing nearly four times as much to get twice the light. I'm hoping this suffices for my natural light photography needs .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 PM

Mr. Potato Head

When I first talked to David at Kit's Camera, he seemed knowledgeable, and claimed to use a Nikon himself. So since their price was only about 6% higher than I could get online, I decided to buy from a local store and build a relationship.

Unfortunately, the warehouse (according to David) had no 50mm lens when they told him they did. So there was a delay when I was promised immediate delivery. When the lens finally arrived, I asked David to throw in some batteries and a UV filter to sweeten the deal, since there'd been some hassles.

Now as I unpack things, I begin to wonder if David wasn't at fault. I checked all my packages, but didn't look at the batteries carefully enough. Turns out he gave me batteries for a different kind of camera. Mine takes CR123A's, and he gave me CR2's. They are maybe 30% too short to fit in the battery compartment. Needless to say, I'm disappointed.

I'll get the batteries tomorrow from Fred Meyer's, then I'll be checking everything else very carefully. I don't think I'll be shopping at Kit's Camera again after all.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:30 PM

Light Touch

Okay, this is probably the electronics equivalent of the Detroit Auto Show 'concept car', i.e. it will never see the light of day, but for what it's worth, I think it's pretty cool:

A full-size virtual keyboard projected by light on to any surface has been invented. Beams of light, which detect the user's movements, make up the keyboard.

Ananova News

More images at Computer Planet, and the developer, Developer VKB of Israel.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:19 PM

Taking the Plunge

In four hours or so I should be the proud owner of a Nikon N80 SLR camera, and a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens. This is considered the 'normal' perspective lens, with shorter lenses being wide-angle, and longer being telephoto. Following the advice on Photo.net, I'm starting with a normal perspective lens and expanding from there. Philip Greenspun points toward wide-angle next, but agrees that some people have more interest in telephoto. I'm a telephoto guy, after trying to take 'distance' photos of Kelly at her recital .

I've got two goals. Goal one is to learn to think more like a photographer. Getting used to SLRs and having to think about at least a few of my shots may tend to improve my yield of 'good' photos. With my digital camera, the controls are awkward, but the gratification is instantaneous, so I tend to just point and shoot at anything.

Goal two is to get somewhat better 'archival' images than I can currently get with the digital camera I have, or the digital cameras I can afford. Assuming I can get one or two worthwhile images per roll, I want to be able to blow them up and display them, at work or in the den at home. I'd also like to be able to take a few informal portraits of Kelly without hauling her off to the photo studio. With a reasonably nice quality zoom such as the 80-200mm f2.8 or a fixed portrait lens, like the 85mm f1.8, I at least stand a chance of doing that at home.

As with any of my toys, there's always the chance that it'll sit on the shelf after the thrill is gone. But the experience is half the fun, so I'm not worried about how long this lasts. In the short term, my goal is to shoot, at least a roll a month, and think about the results. We'll see if this grows or stagnates from there.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:51 PM

NSOTD*

It's like saying you don't like Broadway because there are no commercials.

Frank Deford

Non Sequitur of the Day

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 AM

As If I Needed An Excuse

Finally, a reason to go to Burger King.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:26 AM

March 18, 2002

Movie Lottery

Sunday Kelly and I went to see Ice Age. I knew that it would be a sellout, so I set our departure time from home to get us to the theatre about a half hour early. I'm all too familiar with how Kelly can drag her feet even when we are going to something she's excited about. And sure enough, she decided while getting ready that it would be a good time to get into an argument with her mom about what to do with her hair.

So by the time we left, there was plenty of time to get to the theatre before the show started, but I had my doubts about ticket availability. On the way, I let Kelly know that the odds were against us 'since we got such a late start.' I was careful to let the fact hang in the air without accusing her of messing things up, so she'd have something to ponder should she ever become introspective (hasn't happened yet).

We got there and yes, Ice Age was sold out. Kelly asked if there was anything else showing, and I told her that Return to Neverland was. She'd told me on Saturday that she didn't want to see it, no way. So Sunday she was all for it. Go figger. However, it was going to be an hour wait until the show started. I suggested we buy our tickets, then go get a pop or something. She decided that because they had a nice pile of boxes in the corner of the lobby ("build your own igloo!") that she wanted to stay at the theatre.

I'm learning, though. I brought a book. So I read, and Kelly played with some other kids who were waiting on their own movie. Time passed, and finally we got to see a movie. I thought it was okay, Kelly thought it was great, so no big loss. As for Ice Age, we were leaving just as the next showing was starting, and I overheard folks actually fighting (verbally) over seating, so I'm just as glad we didn't go this weekend.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:27 PM

Backseat Gamer

Checking over the archive, I notice I neglected to mention that I'd finally gotten a copy of Black & White for the Macintosh. I probably dropped the ball because Jean's parents came to visit right after it arrived. I hadn't really intended to buy it just now, but I'd left an order for Starcraft in my Amazon shopping cart, thinking it was my wishlist, and Jean said she was ordering it for me, since it was only $10! So I piggybacked Black & White on the order (paying for it myself) and voila!

On the first day of play, Kelly was right there, asking questions and trying to back-seat drive. It only really got annoying when she'd tell me to do something, and then demand to know why I couldn't (the two most irritating words on the planet: "but why?"). I was playing without having had a chance to read the manual, 'cause Kelly wanted to push forward, push forward. The same thing happened with Final Fantasy X, where her impatience actually got my player characters killed. And of course she took over my GBA until I bought her her own Gameboy Color.

This time I wised up. I created a Black & Whtie avatar for Kelly, sat her down in front of the computer, and told her that she was in charge of the mouse. "I'll be nearby if you need help, but from now on, if you want to do something, you figure it out. If you can't, maybe you'll understand why I can't go where you want me to go, pick up the rock, etc."

So I got her started, then went into another room. She tried to get Jean to help her, but Jean professes total ignorance about computer games, so Kelly was even worse off than when she tried to boss me around. I went to NOVA and she was still playing. On Sunday I asked Jean if Kelly had played much longer, and she said she had played a lot. Success!

Of course, Kelly wanted me to pilot on Sunday, but I told her I couldn't. Instead we went to see a movie, about which more later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 AM

March 17, 2002

Let There Be Light

I just successfully ordered a 'frontlight' kit for my Gameboy Advance. I'm pretty sure I've had it long enough to be out of warranty, but I don't really care anyway. I'm going to take my chances on being able to install this kit despite not having done any electronics stuff before.

It's pretty funny, because the GBA has abysmal visibility in dim light, so the demand for this kit is quite high. The guy running the order site announced availability on Friday, and his server was hammered to its knees through midnight Saturday. He finally installed a larger 'pipe' and I was able to make my order. I should get it sometime in May, if I'm lucky. A birthday present to myself .

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:16 PM

March 15, 2002

Christening

It's been three days now of using the new Nordictrack elliptical trainer. I think I'm going to like it. But my problem is what to call it. I don't want to call it 'the Nordictrack', "Jean, I'm going downstairs to use the Nordictrack", because that's what I used to call the ski trainer, which was also made by Nordictrack.

I could say "I want to go do some aerobic training" to sort of match my 'strength training' on the Bowflex, but that seems sort of awkward somehow. 'Use the elliptical trainer' is just too much of a mouthful. So I've been pondering it, and I was telling Jean about my quandary. "I need a nickname for the thing," I told her.

"I've just been calling it the 'cyclical'," she replied.

Then from a neighboring room, Kelly pitched in: "how about a 'Bikeler'?" [ bike' - ler]

So be it. Our fancy new bit of exercise equipment is 'the Bikeler'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:44 PM

March 14, 2002

Not Hello Kitty

For all you H. P. Lovecraft fans out there, Hello, Cthulhu!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 AM

Home Is Where the Gym Is

In a bid to further insulate myself from my fellow man , we took delivery of a CTX 910 Elliptical Trainer from Nordictrack yesterday. This way, I can completely avoid going to the gym at work, as I have my Bowflex Powerpro for strength training (thus helping my back) and now the elliptical for aerobics (thus helping my heart), right in my very own basement.

I tried it last night, despite my recent flare-up of joint tetchiness. The verdict this morning: my lower back definitely thinks this is a bad thing(tm), while my knees came through with flying colors. I'll have to use it several times to make sure my back can handle it, but I have high confidence that it'll be added to my arsenal. Wish me luck!

P.S. - Kelly likes it a lot. She did nearly a half hour (going backwards), her six-year old legs splayed out to fit into the adult-sized shoe slots. She's a regular little Allison Forsyth.

P.P.S. - We've had a Nordictrack Skier for several years, but I gave up on that because when I held onto the stationary handles and just used my legs, I didn't feel like I was getting a workout, but when I swung my arms or used the 'ski pole ropes', I always had to work not to fall off. The elliptical has upper body rods but they are rigid, so I don't think I'll have any problems with it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:44 AM

March 13, 2002

Dive Into Mark

I should set the stage for folks unfamiliar with the terminology. RSS is a technology to allow the syndication of items from multiple sites. It's pretty good for combining articles from multiple news websites, but some people use it with weblogs as well (not me). I just love this quote:

Reading weblogs via RSS is like reading a written transcription of the daily water cooler conversation.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:21 PM

Appy Polly Logies

In case it isn't already clear, I've been in a somewhat cantankerous mood of late. Maybe it has to do with the joint pain I've been having recently, which really flared up yesterday. My right hip and left shoulder were throbby and sensitive. I made the mistake of trying to stretch my shoulder, which sent me running for the aspirin. Cantankerous and dumb!

So anyway, I'll try to pick up the tone here Real Soon Now. Sorry, oh hypothetical audience of two.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:12 PM

More Bile

Here's another example of someone whose weblog I read regularly who occasionally really irks me. I read Dave Winer's Scripting News 'cause it's full of good links and Dave is articulate if a bit egotistical (all the while kicking his instep and mumbling "aw shucks"). Sometimes he inadvertently lets loose:

...it's a very grand vision (even for me) of something I call The World Outline, that's parallel to the HTML web, a new way of webbing. I remember how excited the most intelligent Frontier users were when we gave them a glimpse of this concept...

[emphasis mine]

And the really stoopid Frontier users just didn't get how brilliant Dave was...

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:04 PM

Love of Voices

Awhile ago I was reading one of those twenty-something websites on my list and the author observed that Gwen Stefani was his favorite beauty. The name sounded familiar to me, and a bit of research reminded me that she's the lead singer of No Doubt, a rock/ska/reggae band from Orange County, California. Looking at pictures of Gwen, I can see how a young man might find her attractive, but she's not my cup of tea. She reminds me of a young Madonna, who never thrilled me.

However, I was listening to my one album by No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, and experienced love again. I've had this experience before, with singers such as Stevie Nicks, Natalie Merchant (formerly of Ten Thousand Maniacs) and oh my god, Kristen Hersh! I can't believe I almost didn't think of her! But there it is. I knew these singers by their voices, from the radio, albums, whatever, before I ever saw them, and those voices, they were so fine, so angelic, so unique and special, that I just fell in love.

In fact listening to Tragic Kingdom again has led me to add two more of Gwen's albums to my Amazon Wish List, and I think I'll be doing the same with Kristen Hersh soonest. I'm sure there is an element of sexuality to this, as I don't experience the same intensity listening to, say, Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave, even though I think they are wonderfully textured singers.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:44 AM

March 12, 2002

Bile, Bile, Bile

I browse lots of sites that have mucho interesting commentary and linkage, but occasionally these guys let fly with a comment that really derails me:

I don't count the modem as a feature since modems are obsolete...

Wes Felter

Yeah, right. I have DSL, but only by undergoing many financial contortions and rationalizations. If Jean were not so flexible about how I spend my bonuses, we'd by darn tootin' still be using a modem. Obsolete indeed...

Here's another:

Emacs ... Makes ... A ... Computer ... Slow

Paul Victor Novarese

Not in the ten or fifteen years I've been productively using this editor! Prat.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:27 PM

Carp, Carp, Carp

Here I was all set to make a flurry of small updates, and Agora suffered some sort of outage. But that's fine, since I ended up postponing my lunch anyway. Now (munch, munch) Agora is back, and so am I.

If you observe more typoes than usual, it's because I switched back to a Sun keyboard, after unloading my Linux box at work. I wasn't using it much, and the leasing company wanted us to buy it for an absurd price, so I said "send it back!"

It's Tuesday, and I'm only now feeling back to my routine. Jean's parents were perfect guests, demanding very little attention, but I just can't adapt to having people around the house, all weekend. I'm too much of an introvert, and too much of a stick in the mud. I want my routine, my privacy, my little focused world. So it's coming back to me, and I'm so not looking forward to doing (any) travel for awhile.

Boss doesn't seem to want me to travel, so good. Jean has tentative plans for Kelly and Disneyworld, I guess I can cope for Kelly's sake. Then there's the Moyer family reunion, which takes place on Maui this year. Transpacific flight. Ugh. Away from all the comforts of home. Ugh. And why does everyone think surf and sun is heaven? I think I'll be spending a lot of time indoors.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:18 PM

March 08, 2002

Snow, What Snow?

As I left this morning for work, Jean informed me that her parents were stalled in Seattle. They were rerouted there due to bad weather between wherever (somewhere over the ocean?) and here. Now they are waiting on a flight to Portland which is late due to snow in Bellingham. Additionally it sounds as if they've had little sleep, so the visit is going to get off to a rocky start. I'm sure Kelly is disappointed.

Locally, we had two dustings of snow yesterday, but nothing's stuck. Searching this site, I find that on January 27th we had actual snow, so I'll be annoyed if we get another one. We're only supposed to get one genuine snowfall a year!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:09 AM

March 07, 2002

They Still Don't Get It

Steve McCannell reviews Pressplay for O'Reilly:

[My] biggest gripe with media companies today is that I don't feel like I own anything anymore. They have taken away that feeling of having a song that is "yours," which is part of the charm of owning a music collection. With Pressplay, you never actually own the music; it's like the service is subletting the music to you: As long as you keep paying the rent, you have access to the media that the service makes available. The warm, fuzzy feeling of owning a song or record seems to be on the way out, as these services only allow you to listen to whatever they deem acceptable, for as long as you keep paying the piper.

I don't expect the Bigs to give away the farm, but once again they're trying to use control of the means of distribution to gouge the public. In this case, the public knows it doesn't cost $20 to ship 'virtual' CDs, and the notion of renting music has quite a hill to climb. I'm not buying.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

March 06, 2002

More Stupid Camera Tricks

In the realm of the digital, this post will be disappointing, but...

I uploaded three photos taken with the Oly 3030Z to Walmart, and had them print 8X10's from them. For the curious, they are based on these images: one, two and three.

I took them to work and had Carsten, an SLR user of many years, look at them. He was very impressed. At NOVA this weekend, Alan and Tom checked them out, and seemed to think they were good too. They are not indistinguishable from film, which is why I'm still playing with a P&S camera, and planning on getting an SLR. But the photos are promising enough that I think I'll have a digital SLR in a couple of years.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:22 PM

My Daughter, The Lawyer

As I was getting ready for work this morning, Jean came in and reported that she had a dispute she wanted my input on. Her parents are coming to visit this weekend (returning from their annual pilgrimage to Hawaii, I think), and Jean is cleaning up the house from it's usual disheveled state. She wanted Kelly to clean her room, which looks as if it was carpet bombed with stuffed animals and other trinkets.

Kelly insisted that it was her room, and that moving things around from the way she had them was an invasion of her person. Jean said Kelly could put things back the way they were after the visit. Kelly complained that things wouldn't feel right afterwards. So Jean came to me to make a final decision. I don't know if she thought I was going to come down on her side or wanted a genuine arbiter, but I asked Kelly to come into her room with me and talk about it.

I was in my sock feet at the time, so I made sure Kelly could see how a sock-footed Grandpa could accidentally step onto a plastic toy and hurt his foot, so that he would be unable to tell 'Fuzzy Duck' stories at bedtime. Kelly and I arrived at a deal. She's supposed to clean all the toys off her floor and put them in a closet. The rickety dresser will be full of her clothes and closed. Other than that, she can leave as much clutter as she wants to on her table tops.

I told Jean about the deal, and she remarked that Kelly was going to be a lawyer when she grows up.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:55 AM

Finally!

I finally waded through the 4000 page opus by Peter F. Hamilton, whose umbrella title was The Night's Dawn Trilogy. Hah. Trilogy. Six books. I got to sleep after midnight because I was in the home stretch. The last hundred pages were racing, since he had threads to wrap up from the previous 4000. Conclude a work in the final 2.5 percent, why don't ya?

Maybe in due time I'll write a review. If so, I'll just append it to this entry, in the 'Extended Entry Text' area, which only shows up on the archived page. In fact, I've included my main spoiler that way already. In the meantime, let me just say that it was a fun ride. Quite memorable. My advice to anyone deciding to read it is to take it slow, read other books in between. But then maybe you're a Robert Jordan masochist.

The Spoiler

This is the first book (series) I've read where the conclusion was accomplished literally by deus ex machina. Hamilton makes it work, but it takes a certain amount of chutzpah, nonetheless.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 AM

March 05, 2002

QOTD

[You] read Kent Beck and now you think it's OK to not design things before you implement them. [...] My friend, you can put wheels on your mama but that doesn't make her a bus, and if you think you can refactor your wrongly-implemented file-copy function to make it preemptive rather than threaded as quickly as I could write that sentence, you're in deep denial.

Joel Rosenberg

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:38 PM

Deja Vu

After posting the article on Wet Fusion, I pinged Weblogs.com to notify it that I'd produced a new article. Checking to see that I'd been included in the 'recently updated' list, I noticed a weblog called artificialNature (actually a category link in a larger weblog?), and the top article, posted today, was on that darn Wet Fusion announcement. The author actually captures the feelings I had better than I did. Read it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 AM

Wet Fusion

On March 23, 1989, Pons and Fleischmann shocked the scientific community by holding a press conference to announce their experiments in what they termed Cold Fusion. More than a decade has passed, and nobody has replicated their experiments or described a satisfactory mechanism for the pair's lab observations. I still remember my boss at NASA Lewis Research Center, Arnon Chait, observing, when the news was first released, how this would change the world...

Given that disappointing history, I was surprised to hear a report on the radio this morning that R. P. Taleyarkhan of the Russian Academy of Sciences and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York announced tentatively that they had succeeded in producing fusion in a container of acetone by using a much-studied phenomenon known as sonoluminescence.

Searching Google for 'bubble', 'collapse' and 'fusion' yielded many links. This is apparently a popular area of research. But most of these articles seemed skeptical at best that fusion could be achieved by collapsing bubbles. Given the original cold fusion hype and failure, I'd like to be the first to dub this new approach Wet Fusion, and wish the scientists luck.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:14 AM

March 04, 2002

Alternate QOTD

Okay, this one was just too snippy to pass up. Notice how many of my quotes get past the gatekeeper by being snide?

You could call it a low point in the history of boxing, but, hey, it's boxing. You could call it a low point in the history of Fox, but, hey, it's Fox.

E! Online TV, no byline

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:22 PM

QOTD

Back in the Neolithic dawn of the Internet, you see, the academics who built it used to beat the living crap out of a businessman the very moment they saw him. One peep of commercial spam on their stainless not-for-profit network, and the net-gods would reach right into your router and just throttle you, like an egg-sucking dog.

Bruce Sterling

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:26 AM

Potpourri

Don't know what it is, maybe I have a deep-seated, but hidden self-hatred. But even as I shook the cold/flu/whatever, I traded it for other ailments. Kelly and I were horsing around the other night, and she accidentally kneed me in the jaw. Now I have TMJ-like pain in my right mandible, but only when chewing tougher foods. Never had that before.

Then we took Kelly to her swimming class Saturday, and afterwards she wanted me to help her get back into her 'street' clothes. I was trying to close the stall door of the changing area, and slipped against the metal latch, gouging a chunk of flesh out of my finger. It bled a lot, filling two bandaids before slowing down. I kept it covered all Saturday and let it air out Sunday. I'm able to type today, so the finger is functional. No stitches or anything like that.

[in the voice of Rodney Dangerfield] "I don't get no respect! No respect at all!" I was sitting at the computer in the kitchen, my single mangled finger pointing straight up, as I labored under the misapprehension that if I got the finger higher than my heart, it would slow the bleeding, and I wouldn't have to change the bandaid so quickly. Jean walked into the kitchen, saw me sitting, reading Photo.net with my arm casually crooked, and my index finger pointing to the ceiling, and began to sing: 'This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!'

Kelly was out of school Thursday and Friday last week with a fever, but was feeling much better by Friday afternoon. Hence we let her go to swimming class on Saturday. Her brain continues to explode, as she is comfortably (and correctly) using words like 'aggressive' when describing bears in her dreams.

Speaking of dreams, I had one this Saturday morning. It's unremarkable except in it's intersection with the waking world. I dreamt I was in a mall. I was in a camera store, pricing the film. Then I was walking down the corridor, saw a newstand, where a mother was teaching her son to use the cash register. I walked up, saw some candy on the counter, and took a couple. I was walking away when I realized I hadn't paid for it. Oops! So I went back, and the mother said "I'm sorry, I was busy teaching my son to use the register."

"That's okay," I said, "I'm sleepwalking." Just then some of the syrup from the candy went down my windpipe and I began to choke. At that instant, I woke up, coughing strongly. Sinus drainage had clogged my lungs. So how does my brain perform these dovetails of dreams and reality? When I related this dream to Jean, her only comment was "that's not a very interesting dream. At least you could have been flying around the camera store."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 AM

But What Do You Really Think?

I think I'm gonna like the US edition of The Register:

"Entertainment industry lapdog Senator Fritz Hollings (Democrat, South Carolina) lashed out at Intel executive VP Leslie Vadasz who warned that the copy-protected PCs Hollings is obediantly promoting on behalf of his MPAA and RIAA handlers would stifle growth in the marketplace."

And it just goes to show that it isn't only Republicans who are Big Biz lackeys. Dems just line up with different Big Bizzes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:56 AM

March 01, 2002

QOTD

"It's either brilliant or completely retarded, and it's a real fine line."

Moriarty, Ain't It Cool News

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:53 AM

February 26, 2002

Feelin' Yucky...

I tried to come up with a clever title, but I don't even feel up to that. I'm going to bed in a few minutes, about two hours earlier than I usually do. Colds/flus suck majorly.

I went to work today, but bailed around lunch time. I will try again tomorrow, after around nine hours of sleep. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:28 PM

February 25, 2002

Decay of the Mothertongue

BBC News reports that Israeli newspapers are disenchanted with Ariel Sharon. However, the unnamed author of the BBC article, can't seem to find the right words:

And Maariv, a centre-right newspaper, was coruscating.

"Sharon's speech sounded like a pep talk to the folks, taken straight from the lexicon of cliches and slogans," it thundered.

Maariv was 'sparkling', 'glittering', about Sharon? Could the author have meant excoriating?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 AM

Sunday Aftermath

Try attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's with a bad cold. A bad cold on the uphill portion of the largest ramp of the roller coaster. Go ahead, try it! I'll wait. Dum dee dum dum... Back? Not very much fun, was it?

It's a measure of how sick I was feeling that at CEC's, the land of the free refill, I didn't want even one soda pop. I just wanted water, and lots of it. I walked around with Kelly when she was doing the 'attractions', stood in line with her to cash in her tickets for cheap toys, and otherwise sat at an empty table reading half-a-paperback (if you wanna freak out a six-year old who's just picking up speed learning to read, rip a paperback in half so it will fit in your pocket).

Several of Kelly's friends were there, including Cesar, whom I mention to illustrate once again how divorced from reality I was. I only discovered after they left that Cesar's parents don't speak English. They smiled a lot.

Kelly brought her HitClip mini-player, and lost it there. I think it disappeared in the ball pit. Kelly spent some time digging among the balls trying to find it, and in a fit of poor judgement I promised that if she didn't find it I'd buy her another one. So she learned a valuable lesson: if you don't take care of your things, Dad will replace them for free.

This segues into the post-party segment of the evening, where I drove to Fred Meyer's to find a replacement HitClip kit for Kelly. But first, I decided if she got a treat, I should get one, so I stopped at Border's bookstore and bought myself a copy of Basic Photographic Materials and Processes. After that, we arrived at Fred Meyer's and hunted until we located the HitClip material. They were out of the 'earbud' players, and only had the microscopic 'boombox' model, which as it turns out, puts out an annoying level of sound.

We finally arrived home, and Jean graciously agreed to assume the bathing chores, so I had a veggie burger and collapsed.

I didn't have any trouble on the drive home, but with the cold and exhaustion, I'd have to say I was definitely not driving with my full faculties. Let's say it was equivalent to driving with a handheld cellphone the whole way. Hey, there's a new impairment scale! On a scale of one to five cellphones, how impaired were you?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 AM

QOTD

In keeping with my constantly escalating interest in photography, here is my quote of the day, from The Luminous Landscape, a landscape photography website (duh). The article is an extensive discussion of what lenses yield the sharpest images:

Are you ready for this? Here's the big one. The one big truth that I've learned about this subject after more than 40 years as a photographer, and which summarizes the points above.



"Most Lenses are Better Than Most Photographers"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

February 24, 2002

Party Time

Kelly is attending a birthday party for Brianna, one of her school friends, at Chuck E. Cheese's this afternoon. Lucky me, I get to take her, which should be fun, since a cold has blossomed in my Nordic lungs over the weekend. Add that chewing pizza is going to be a chore since Kelly accidentally knocked my jaw really hard last night, and I have little to look forward to.

I think I'll take my P&S camera to do some practice shooting. I don't want to take my Nikon Coolpix because that's really only for photography I want to put up on the web, and it ain't Kelly's party.

Kelly bought Brianna a present yesterday and was so taken with it that she bought one for herself as well: a HitClip. This is a little gadget which takes tiny chips containing one-minute samples of music by various pop icons such as Britney Spears and 'N Sync. I tried to look up some factoids about the technology (are the chips EEPROMs or flash -- probably too expensive), but Tiger Toys has that locked up pretty tight, and the reverse engineering crowd seemed more interested in the FM plug-in module. Maybe I'll try looking at it under the microscope .

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:36 PM

The Razor's Edge

If a television show is cancelled, the rights holders show no interest in selling the rights to anyone else, and indeed they have demonstrated from the beginning a lack of interest in promoting the show (when they usually promote the living daylights out of every new show they introduce), moving it from timeslot to timeslot and 'hiding' it's fleeting new location, is it intellectual property theft to acquire unlicensed copies of that show?

The strictest answer is, of course, yes. Still, I was quite enchanted by Invader Zim (not even listed on Nick's front page), and to date there is every indication that it is headed for oblivion, killed by neglect at the hands of Nickelodeon. Happy is the man who discovers Divx, and applies it wisely. I found fan copies of every episode released so far, online at various sites, apparently captured directly from television, as they had Nick 'toon promotions for other shows at the end of each program.

I have never downloaded any movie or television show which I had a reasonable hope of getting commercially. Strike that, I've never downloaded any American movie or television show at all. I've only ever downloaded some Japanese anime which clearly was never going to be licensed in the United States. In the one instance where I was surprised by the license being picked up, I deleted the files.

So what if Nick or whoever eventually owns the rights releases a DVD of all the episodes? I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I won't have to delete the files from my computer because I don't plan to hoard them anyway. I just wanted to see the episodes which have eluded my ReplayTV because Nick lies about the scheduled showtimes.

In October of 1998, the Bono Copyright Extension Act stretched copyrights out yet again, such that the 'reasonable term' granted to original authors extended well beyond their lifespan, and benefitted only corporations. A side-effect of this is that works which were due to enter the public domain instead remained copyrighted by various publishing houses. And of course the publishing houses made these works readily available, right? No, in fact, the vast majority of these works are out of print, and will most likely be lost forever. Of course some of them are worthy of oblivion, but we will never be allowed to judge that.

So we return to the ethical question. Is it theft? Yes. Is it wrong? In my opinion, only if the copyright holder has any intention of using the intellectual property. Let me close with a quote from Steve Ressel, the producer and director of Zim:

If you are wondering about the crew reaction to Zim episodes on the web and the legal or moral aspect of the practice- no one has a problem with it; we are generally flattered.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:26 PM

February 22, 2002

Avalanche!

Yesterday evening Kelly lost her second baby tooth. Front, left, top. It was hanging by a thread for over a week. How it happened: I was making her an omelet in the kitchen and she kissed me on the cheek. Smooch! Click! The sound of it hitting the linoleum floor was instantly recognizable by both of us.

She let me take a (film) picture, but not digital, so it'll have to wait on development to show up here. This morning we were 'celebrating' the new 'departure' and she showed us that the neighboring tooth is also very loose. Could they go in a batch?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:17 AM

February 20, 2002

Photoshop Galleries

Wouldn't you know it, Photoshop 6.0 does web galleries, too. In case you're not familiar with them, they're the pages I've been linking to various places here on my weblog. For an example, click on the banner photo (limited time offer!). I did that one using Cameraid, which is an excellent all-around photo utility, but not quite the calibre of Photoshop. I also checked out a tool called TalaPhoto, which does nothing but web galleries, but only with frames.

So tonight before all my energy ran out, I ran off a sample web gallery using some of the last scans from my first run of Olympus Stylus Epic photos. As you'll notice, some are experimental in the extreme. I took a photo of Kelly at the concert and blew it up to just her face. Then I did a 'redundant' scan on the film scanner and tried blowing that one up. Result: mucho grain.

So the lesson here is that without a telephoto or zoom lens, I can't expect to get pictures at a school concert that I can use without crawling into the laps of the kids. Since that won't work, I'll continue to use the Nikon Coolpix 950, which has a 3X zoom and is digital to boot, giving quick turnaround!

My (film) photographic site of choice, Photo.net, run by Philip Greenspun, recommends using cameras only with 'prime' (fixed focus) lenses. As Phil says:

Photographic lenses in general are not very good. They only appear to be good because people very seldom enlarge or closely inspect images. Lenses are subject to many kinds of distortion, all of which are more difficult to engineer around in a zoom lens. Furthermore, zoom lenses tend to be slower (admit less light) than prime lenses. This forces the photographer into using flash and/or a tripod.

So I bought the Olympus Stylus Epic, recommended on Photo.net as a very good P&S camera. However, it is really equipped with a mildly wide-angle lens, rather than a telephoto. So as you can see by the samples, even a cheap zoom on a 2 megapixel digital camera can give better results than a (wide angle) prime on a film camera, under less than ideal conditions (which life usually hands you).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:55 PM

February 19, 2002

Photoshop 6

Yesterday I bought the Photoshop 6.0 Upgrade for Macintosh. I was able to use the upgrade because ages ago we bought a flatbed scanner which bundled Photoshop 4.0 for something like an extra $50. The Adobe technical support person I spoke with when confirming that this was a valid upgrade option told me they didn't do such bundles anymore because "it was too good a deal."

This was "too good a deal" as well. If I'd had to pay full price, I wouldn't have bothered. It costs four times as much as the upgrade. But now I've got the modern version installed and fully functional! The layout has changed a lot, and I expect it will take awhile to get up to speed, but I've already discovered a feature which makes this upgrade worth it: constrained cropping. That is, I can tell Photoshop that I want to crop down an image, but that I want the crop to be constrained to say, the dimensions needed for a 4"X6" photograph (for digital printing). It works great, and if I'd had it last weekend it would have saved me an hour when I was creating images to print at the Costco digital imaging kiosk.

I'm gonna try working through the user's guide to find out what features are of interest to me, but I'll probably pick up a book for 'noodling' projects later on. Maybe The Photoshop 6 Wow! Book, or the Adobe Photoshop 6.0 Classroom In A Book.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:21 AM

Physics Superstars

If you're old enough, you may remember seeing the original run of Cosmos, a thirteen episode love letter to the universe, from Carl Sagan. Sagan was hardly the first popular physicist, or popularizer of physics. But he was certainly one of the most successful. The only other success of this scale that I can think of is James Burke, who is more of a polymath than a physicist, and doesn't limit himself to cosmic scale questions. Burke is still alive and weaving that web.

Nobody has arisen to claim the throne, though there are a host of adequate popularizers out there. I'm now placing bets, however. In the past several weeks I've seen at least two articles referring to a physicist who has begun hosting documentaries about high-energy physics. Thus far these films have been limited to physicists and their conferences, but I'm seeing a growth in visibility which leads me to believe that Maria Spiropolu is aiming for the brass ring. Does she have what it takes? I don't know. It all depends on whether she has screen presence, and a recognizable style. Can you say "billions and billions"?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:06 AM

February 17, 2002

Okonomiyaki

Last night was a NOVA night. The club reached a watershed, in that they crossed the $1000 mark in their quest to raise funds for a projector. I never in my wildest dreams believed that we could raise so much in such a short time, but apparently the financial profile of the club has changed over the years. Call it the "graying" of NOVA

Typically we try to go to a movie after the meeting, we being Tom, Alan, John Jackson, Dan, James, myself or some permutation thereof. This particular meeting, however, we were all invited to an Okonomiyaki party by Kari and Lisa, two of our more artistic members. They rented a pair of rooms at the Embassy Suites, stocked them with all the fixings for Okonomiyaki, and ran a grill cooking to order. And yes, it was a dry party, for all you concerned citizens out there.

I chose not to eat since I didn't want to be digesting until the wee hours. Several members were showing signs of the illness that has been taking folks out left and right (including many of my co-workers at Mentor last week). I haven't fallen yet, but was feeling a little surreal last night. In fact, I hope certain people didn't find me more obnoxious than usual, since in retrospect I was teasing them mercilessly. I accept that when I'm at a gathering like this that I usually get a little too goofy for my own good, but still, hope I didn't tweak anybody's nose too hard.

After the party, I drove home, and, you know, conked out!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:13 PM

Berry Hunt

Yesterday Kelly was rummaging through Mom's geegaws and found a miniature bucket, which once contained Valentine's Day candy. Kelly decided that it was a berry bucket, and that she and I must fly at once to Mentor to hunt for berries. She had clear memories from her days at the Child Development Center on Mentor's campus that there were numerous, bounteous blackberry bushes behind the soccer field.

I carefully impressed on her that she wasn't likely to find any berries this time of year, but she still wanted to go. Since it was a way to get her outdoors and exercising I agreed. While we were down there, I grabbed the Olympus C3040Z digital camera our team uses for capturing whiteboard images, and took a few photos. You can reach them by clicking on the banner at the top of the home page (or when this is replaced, follow this link).

After the hunt, we ended up going back to my office so that I could upload the digital photos. While there, Kelly saw a button on a wall, which had a red circle with a line through it, over the word "whining". I.e., "no whining". I explained it to her, and she thought it was cute.

We finally left, and I decided to swing by Fry's Electronics to see if they had a software package I was looking for. When she realized we weren't going directly home, Kelly started to complain. "My feet are sore! I don't want to go here!" She went on and on, while I was getting out of the car. I let her know that since I'd taken the trouble to bring her down and spend all that time with her, the least she could do was spend ten minutes at Fry's with me. Finally I said, "no whining."

"Dad," she said, "the sign's not here!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:00 PM

February 14, 2002

Insider Humor

Every discipline has it's own jokes and anecdotes. In a sufficiently broad discipline, such as computer science, you'll get 'sub-disciplinary' humor (BOFH, for instance). When I was getting my undergraduate degree in computer science at University of Akron, the computer science curriculum was directed by the Mathematics Department. The professor who got me into NASA, Dr. Young, was an award-winning mathematician. My advisor, Dr. Hajjafar, was perhaps the greatest teacher of mathematics (numerical analysis, in this case) that I have ever had the pleasure to learn under.

Suffice to say, as I got deeper into the program I began to hear 'math jokes'. I shouldn't inflict them on you, but here's a sample:

An engineer, a chemist and a mathematician are staying in three adjoining cabins at an old motel. First the engineer's coffee maker catches fire. He smells the smoke, wakes up, unplugs the coffee maker, throws it out the window, and goes back to sleep.

Later that night the chemist smells smoke too. He wakes up and sees that a cigarette butt has set the trash can on fire. He says to himself, "Hmm. How does one put out a fire? One can reduce the temperature of the fuel below the flash point, isolate the burning material from oxygen, or both. This could be accomplished by applying water." So he picks up the trash can, puts it in the shower stall, turns on the water, and, when the fire is out, goes back to sleep.

The mathematician, of course, has been watching all this out the window. So later, when he finds that his pipe ashes have set the bedsheet on fire, he is not in the least taken aback. He says: "Aha! A solution exists!" and goes back to sleep.

There were more than you could imagine, with a sprinkling of engineering jokes to lend variety. Anyway, whenever I get beyond the surface of any hobby or discipline, I discover that the little club has it's own jokes and humor. I've had a digital camera for awhile now (on my second one, actually) and I just bought a P&S to round things out. So I was reading Photo.net this evening, when I ran across this, an "Ode to a Negative (Apologies to Robert Burns)". Even to my journeyman ear, this poem rings true, both as photography humor, and as a pastiche of Robert Burns. Read it, it's good.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:44 PM

Science Photography

This set of images from the Visions of Science Photographic Awards are the ultimate in cool, and reward multiple viewings. [via Jason Kottke]

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:25 AM

February 12, 2002

Too Many Cooks (or: Not All Cooking Shows Are Created Equal)

The triumphant return of America's Test Kitchen was accompanied by a promotional blip for another cooking show (I don't usually watch ads with the ReplayTV box, but I was working on my laptop at the time). Okay, I said, I'll give it a try.

Gah! If John Tesh had a cooking show, it would look like Cooking With Caprial & John. The recipes may generally be interesting on this show, but I wouldn't know, as I couldn't get past the utterly bland personae of the co-hosts. I won't be watching this show twice.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:20 PM

Biofilms Redux

A while back (a long while back, Internet time) I posted a note to my old weblog about biofilms. Now from Honeyguide, a nice naturalist weblog, I've found this, quoted in it's entirety since I don't want to lose the links, and he doesn't have by-article links:

When bacteria touch down on a surface, they count themselves and start building structures.

I've linked it before, but I still highly recommend this

Science News article, which goes into more detail about how bacteria work together to form "biofilms" on a surface. It mentions a soil bacterium that, when it makes a biofilm, turns off the genes that make the flagellum (the propulsive "tail"). Instead it concentrates on making appendages called pili that help it stick to the surface or move along it -- a different mode of propulsion for a different way of life. Free-swimming bacteria forming biofilms are a bit like humans switching from migratory hunting-and-gathering to living in towns -- only imagine that a few years after moving to a city, we all grew a Segway out of our asses.

Bacteria can work together, they can evolve to resist our poisons, they reproduce hundreds of thousands of times faster than we can, they're invisible to the naked eye, and they have us completely surrounded. It's a good thing some of them are on our side.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:41 PM

February 11, 2002

Photo Finish

It pays to shop around, I guess:

Kodak Royal Gold 400, 24 exposures

My initial experiments are to determine if there is much difference in quality between grades of film when using a P&S camera, so I'm doing one-off rolls that I've picked up at Oregon Photo. I don't mind paying a bit more to just walk in the store and pick up a roll, but a 218% mark-up?!?! Okay, it won't be that big a difference after paying postage to buy from Adorama, but if I bought bulk (five 36 exposures rolls) postage would be negligible. Oregon Photo charges $5.50 for a roll of Kodak Max 400 (Max being lower quality than Royal Gold). That's still more expensive than the mail-order 36-exposure Royal Gold deal.

Printing a roll of 24 exposures to 3X5 glossies costs $10 at Oregon Photo ($0.41 per image). Printing a roll of 36 exposures at Adorama is a $12 mailer ($0.33 per image). But Adorama uses 'dunk and dip' developing, so I'm guessing there'll be fewer scratches on the negatives. I've got a sample mailer on order for that experiment.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:19 AM

February 09, 2002

Cooking Science

I just finished watching the season premiere of America's Test Kitchen. That is, if one could really have a 'season premiere' with this sort of show. I first stumbled on it last year when Kelly was 'random grazing' Saturday afternoon television. The episode that time was for The Perfect All-Purpose Cake.

When the episode is for desserts or veggie dishes, this show is virtually perfect for me. All the 'science of cooking' and blind taste testing is perfect for my geek personality. Too many episodes focus on beef or pork dishes, which I don't have enough interest in to imagine I'd ever bother cooking. The first episode this season was dessert (Fudge Brownies), so I win. Next week is Short Ribs, so I lose. Oh, well.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:35 PM

I Think That I Shall Never See...

I just got my first roll of film back from Oregon Photo. I shot it with the P&S, generally choosing static subjects such as Trees. I used Kodak Max 400 film for this experiment, and as noted above, I had it developed by a 'professional' lab.

On the plus side:

On the minus side:

Other issues may be traced to the scanner (2720 pixels per inch vs. 4000 on the Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED which is about three times as expensive) or the choice of film/camera. The pictures when scanned are somewhat muddy and washed out. Doing an auto-level in Photoshop seems to help with this. I'm developing a second roll at the same lab using Kodak Royal Gold 400 (as mentioned in the link to Kodak Max 400 above) to determine if that makes any difference in a P&S camera. I'll use the same lab for consistency.

My third experiment hasn't even begun. I bought another roll of Max, and I'm gonna have it developed (when finished) at another lab in Tualatin, in a strip mall by Donut King. Sometimes the drab hovel has the better processing, at least if you believe Philip .

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:29 PM

February 08, 2002

FFX Voice Actors

Pondering the game, I thought about how good the voice acting was. So I went on a search to find info, and found this link. Man do those game dudes owe Cartoon Network a debt of gratitude! Cow and Chicken and Johnny Bravo figure prominently in several actors' resumes.

One I wish I hadn't found out is that the voice of Kimahri and Wakka (one of the coolest characters) are both done by John DiMaggio, who is the actor doing the voice of Bender on Futurama. So thank Fox Network as well. But I'll never be able to watch Wakka go through his moves again without wondering why he doesn't bend something!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:52 PM

Concert Gallery, Digital

I promised pictures from the concert, well, here's the first wave. I dropped the roll of film off this afternoon, and they promised to develop them by tomorrow. So I'll probably pull a late-nighter tomorrow night to scan the better images in, if there are any. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:07 PM

Insulin Shock

Yesterday evening was my first outing to a school recital. The title of the production was "It's a Jungle Out There" and all the kids wore construction-paper head gear meant to identify them as particular animals. There were about five musical numbers, with the music teacher punching buttons on a keyboard to trigger programmed music. Andrew Lloyd Webber would have been proud.

I wandered about taking pictures to avoid falling asleep, using both my digital camera and my new point-and-shoot, an Olympus Stylus Epic fixed focus 35mm camera. As the place was crowded with parents, all of whom wanted to take pictures, I doubt any of my pictures turned out all that sharp. Digitals will likely go up tonight, film at 11.

It's a measure of our different attitudes that Jean said this was probably one of the most special moments as a parent that she's ever experienced. I on the other hand was experiencing a mixture of anxiety and boredom, not unlike waiting in the doctor's office to find out what that strange twinge in the chest might be. I'm truly not looking forward to that long tunnel of recitals and concerts, though there's a chance they'll improve as the kids get older...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 AM

February 07, 2002

Middle Age

You know you've hit middle age when you discover that your favorite new feature in Mozilla is the Ctrl-+ shortcut*.

*: Make font on page larger.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:21 PM

Email, Shemale!

Nothing to say, just liked the headline

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:18 PM

February 06, 2002

Sub-mental Engineering

We finally watched the Mental Engineering special on the Super Bowl commercials. Jean recorded it on tape. All I can say is "what a disappointment!"

I was hoping for some meat, such as how the commercial was structured, it's demographic target, maybe some short 'making of' clips. Nothing of the sort. What I got was about four commercials, with substantial padding in between of not-very intelligent people thoroughly impressed with their own wit. We ended up skipping through the chatter and covered the entire half-hour show in about ten minutes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:30 PM

February 05, 2002

Mad At Cows

Jean has had an embargo on beef for Kelly for I-don't-know-how-long. Last Friday Kelly let it be known that all her friends at school had cheeseburgers for lunch, and that she was very sad that she couldn't partake. Jean said she'd do the research, and decide this weekend. I agreed to do some research also, and a simple search on Google turned up a wealth of information. This would have been much more painful had we needed to make a trip to the reference section of the library. Anyway, I sent my summary message to Jean via email, and here it is:

This study was conducted under USDA contract by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The scientific lead was from the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University. Study ran for three years. Results were announced November 30, 2001.

Searching the net for references to this study and the words 'peer review' show that nobody has done one, so take the report with a grain of salt. The USDA itself lists among it's actions: "arrange for the risk assessment to be peer reviewed by a team of outside experts to validate its scientific integrity". Not enough time has elapsed for such a peer review to take place, in my judgement.

I only found one outright negative 'review' of the study, calling it 'cigarette science' and accusing Harvard of being a lapdog of the meat industry, posted before the report was published, at a site called www.mad-cow.org, so take *them* with a grain of salt ;^)~

Everything you ever wanted to know:

   http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/bse/

Summary:

  • No known cases of BSE in the US after 13 years of intensive scrutiny. Meat import policies, feed regulation and testing form a triple-firewall against incursions.
  • Study runs simulations on worst-case scenarios based on real data from the U.K., taking current US rules into account. Result, worst case sees *possibly* one or two cases of vCJD per year, over a twenty year period from the time when infected cattle enter the country. The lesser scenarios all had no human infections, and all scenarios showed outbreaks dying out within 20 years.

Final Judgement:

I think it is currently safer for Kelly to eat beef than to ride in an automobile, to pick a well-known risk benchmark.

Then Jean asked her biology teacher, whom she characterized as a far-left liberal, what she thought. The teacher went off on a litany of problems with beef, from antibiotics fed to cows to injections of bovine growth hormone, and how all this could affect Kelly. When Jean asked her about BSE, she said, "oh, if that's all you're worried about, it's not a problem. But you really shouldn't feed her beef."

So this Sunday, I gave Kelly a choice between trying once again to see Snow Dogs and going to McDonald's Playland for a happy meal, and she chose the latter. You've never seen such a happy child!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:41 AM

February 01, 2002

Stupor Bowl Sunday

Many years I manage to completely miss that the Super Bowl is happening. Last year Jean, Kelly and I went out to have lunch at Yeatsy's, a faux Mexican restaurant with really good food, and the place was empty! We asked the waiter what gave, and he acted sort of surprised. "It's the Super Bowl today."

Well, that worked for us. Jean heard this weekend was the 'big game', so we're making plans to hit the restaurant again. Jean said we need to find out what time the game is so we can have the restaurant to ourselves again .

One thing Jean likes about the Super Bowl is the commercials, and she has actually recorded the game so she can skip over it to watch the commercials. I haven't bothered. This year I'm planning to record Super Commercials: A Mental Engineering Special, on PBS after the game. It is a show which will deconstruct some of the more interesting commercials, and sounds interesting enough to catch.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:24 AM

Let There Be (No) Light!

I think the single most cherished feature of my current car is that it whines at me if I try to leave the headlights on when I get out of it. I can't tell you how many times I left the lights on in the old Escort wagon, or how many times had to get a jumpstart from strangers. You'd think I'd learn, but it must have happened four or five times in the time I owned that car.

The problem is that with the occasional fog and variable overcast, I often start out with lights on, and then forget they are on because the sky has cleared up, gotten light, and why would I have the lights on for that? Doh!

So now a simple gadget saves me from myself. Thank you Honda!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:12 AM

Out of the Woods

I finally made it out of Macalania Wood! It took a long time, but I think the primary thing which helped this time was dumb luck. The main monster I held most responsible for killing my party the last two times, the Iron Giant, didn't put in an appearance for any of the battles. Which is ironic, since one of the skills Wakka picked up between battles was Dark Buster, supposedly the only thing effective against them.

After that was a battle with a Sin Spawn. No fair, after that nasty Wood! It only had one weakness, and I couldn't use sensor on it to find out what it was. In the end, I'm not even sure I discovered it's weakness so much as bored it to death. I dragged the fight out interminably by constantly re-healing everybody--go Yuna!

So around 11pm I reached another save spot, the Inn at Macalania Lake, maintained by the Rin Travel Agency. I'm afraid I wasn't very careful in my purchases, spending most of my hard-earned booty on Phoenix Down (revive one KO-ed character) and potions to restore hit points. So if there was some special gee-gaw I was supposed to buy, I'm now too broke to get it.

I saved and went upstairs. I'll view the tutorials for new fiends in the next day or two.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:05 AM

January 31, 2002

Learn By Doing

Oops! When I put the page together, I renamed all the full-size images with nice Macintosh names. You know, embedded spaces, exclamation points, no .jpg suffix. That worked just fine with my Macintosh web browser from home. And seeing as how it was after midnight when I did the final test, I didn't think about 'cross-platform' issues.

But if you checked the pictures out from some other platform, they were rendered as garbage text. So I've renamed all the Jpeg files again, and rebuilt the index file. Give 'em a whirl!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

Minor Retraction

Okay, just to be fair, the prints envelope offers Kodak prints, but Jean checked 'Standard' film processing, so it's perhaps not as professional where preserving the negatives is concerned. I'll probably do some experimenting in that regard with the next roll...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:52 AM

Still No Sign Of Land!

I've lost track of how long it's been since I've gotten stranded in Macalania Wood (FFX reference). I put it aside since I couldn't figure out how to get past the monsters, and got killed twice. I have now even resorted to checking some walkthroughs on Gamefaqs.com, and they all uniformly agree "the fights are tough". Thanks alot for that tip. I browsed one of those tip books at Fry's this evening, but no more help there.

Anyway, I assumed that I'd set some time aside to try getting past it again tonight after putting everybody to bed, but I got sidetracked. I bought a film scanner today (yeah, I know, I said no more toys). It's a Canon Canoscan FS2720U, and will scan negatives and slides. I'm currently trying it out with our generic Point and Shoot (P&S). Here are the samples, covering Kelly's birthday, Christmas, and some Summer shots too!

The initial short story is that negatives from Kodak mailers have lots of scratches! But Photoshop to the rescue, and it's almost hard to tell. The second point is, film scanning is slow compared to uploading digital photos. And of course, P&S photos are not all that impressive to begin with. But it's still a way for me to get those photos from our camera up on the web when I find them appealing.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:06 AM

January 29, 2002

Finite and Infinite Games

Back in my old weblog, I posted a note about Nomic, which is a game about making rules. It's very open-ended, and is one of those games where the quality of play is largely determined by the participants. I think someday I'll try my hand at it again, in which case I'll need the starting rules. Peter Suber is the creator, who invented the game to illustrate a point in his book, The Paradox of Self-Amendment.

What got me off on this thread again was a reference by David McCusker to Finite and Infinite Games, a book by James P. Carse which I read several years ago. It struck me as a bit gosh-wow, but had some interesting viewpoints regarding life as 'infinite game'. Since McCusker mentions Nomic in another post, that got me onto the realization that Nomic could very well be one of the sources of inspiration for Carse's book, since I believe it predates it by a decade.

Does this article have a point? No, it's really just a bookmark for me to record things I'm interested in. I'll probably transcribe the links to various other open-ended games I had included in my original Nomic article (from Terebi I) when I've got time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:15 PM

Why a Duck?

Friday I rented Duck Soup and Horse Feathers with my own money* because Kelly said she wanted to see some Marx Brothers. Of course my own enthusiasm tainted my decision. I should have rented just one.

Sunday afternoon we all sat down with popcorn to watch Duck Soup, supposedly one of the best of their films. Less than an hour into the movie, Kelly was fidgeting, and tried to squirm onto my lap. I was shifting my weight at that moment, and she slid to the floor. For some reason she decided to throw a wobbly over this, but the upshot was we ended up stopping the movie.

Eventually things calmed down, and I went to start the movie again. Kelly was dead set against it. "It's too slow," she said. So Jean and I went on to do other things, and Kelly started watching All That on Nickelodeon. I blame shows like this for making the Marx Brothers seem 'too slow'.

*: $3.98 at Blockbuster's .

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:44 AM

January 28, 2002

Pa Moyer

I just realized that I need to post an update on Jean's Dad and his condition. News is that he came through the angioplasty fine--we have pictures, before and after, though I don't have the URL handy right now. Though he claims not to feel any different, he is filling his calendar with activities, like leading an investment club meeting, so at least he seems to be feeling okay.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:25 AM

Hmmmm

I was listening to Morning Edition on the way to work. They were interviewing Diana Wells, who has a new book out, 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names.

One of the most interesting tidbits: Mayan legend has it that hummingbirds were created out of all the scraps of feathers left over when the creation of the other birds was done.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:23 AM

January 27, 2002

Snow Snit

click for small gallery of snow picsLast night it started to snow. And I mean snow! Okay, I've done time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Ohio's no picnic either. But I left those arctic armpits behind for a reason, so I always greet the two or three days of snow and ice in Portland with a grimace.

My hope is that the cold snap passes quickly. Sometimes it can drag on for a couple of weeks and we have to deal with ice on the roads as well as the bitter cold. I never liked it back East, grrrr, grumble, grumble...

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:11 PM

New Banner

I finally went out and bought a corkboard to put Kelly's artwork on. She can generate art faster than I can find places to put it, without breaking a sweat. I installed the board yesterday, with only a little difficulty. Note to self: once an expansion bolt is installed, you can't unscrew it, even a little.

So now, even though Kelly will still be cranking out tons of stuff, she can't complain that I never hang it up (not a real large problem, but I like to be preemptive with this sort of thing). The rule is, if you want it posted, Kelly, you get to pick what comes off of the board to make room for it. Neat, huh?

Click on the banner image to see a blow-up of one of her drawings on the board.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:02 PM

January 23, 2002

As the Tongue Curls

I don't want to become a word maven, but sometimes I get rather annoyed at linguistic abuses. Here's one.

I was reading The Haskell School of Expression this evening, when my eyes lit on the following phrase on page 144: "Instead of pushing this line of reasoning further, let's pursue a different tact based on the (valid) assumption that if m is even, then: m = m `quot` 2 + m `quot` 2."

You don't need to know anything about the equation, I just included that to show the complete quote. The important point is the abuse of the word tact in this context, which I've seen more than once. This comes from people imitating the sound of a common figure of speech without understanding it's origin. "Taking a different tack", from context clearly means trying a new approach or new direction, but to the ear, and the lazy tongue, tact rolls out almost as easily.

But it's wrong! Tact and tack are short words. Even if the average person has no reason to know what a tack(line) is, or how to tack into the wind, they must surely understand the meaning of tact well enough to wonder what the heck "pursue a different tact" should mean?

Google search pursue +different +tack: 11,000 results.

Google search pursue +different +tact: 12,500 results!

The illiterate are winning!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:54 PM

January 22, 2002

The Check Is In The Ether...

This explains exactly why I do not now nor ever intend to adopt automated electronic bill-payments. Send me a paper bill and if I agree with the amount, then you can have a check in payment.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:12 PM

Photo Finish

About a week ago I engaged in an experiment. It was precipitated by Apple's new iPhoto software, though I didn't use it. iPhoto allows the user to upload their digital photos to Kodak/Ophoto to have physical glossy prints made. I read on one of the Mac newsgroups that in fact the prices were lower, and the picture quality higher, through Walmart.com.

So I selected five random digital photographs from our trip to the coast and uploaded them to Walmart (the storage for these online photos will go away in a year, so ... linkrot!!!). I selected 4"X6" glossies, which were 26 cents apiece. Since there is no Walmart convenient to my home, I had them mailed for an additional $1.25. So for less than two dollars I got my five sample photos.

And they were great! They were, to me and to Jean and to the friends I showed them, indistinguishable from point-and-shoot photos. Now if I were to try to compare them to SLR photos, they'd probably fall short, but since I'm only competing with Jean's point-and-shoot on our little road trips, I can now get 'archival' photos of any special shots I like.

P.S.: I no longer have the link to the article which started this all, but Yann Ricard's post to Macintouch covers the same ground even better.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 AM

January 21, 2002

The Analytical Engine

Actually, this is my last entry for tonight .

Jean's taking a math class this term. The recommended calculator is the TI-89. If you ask me, it's overkill for an introductory math class, but if she can unlock the features, it might actually accelerate her understanding.

Unfortunately, the manual isn't the most user friendly, not even having an index. Jean wanted me to help her figure out how to do unit conversions, and I did. After about an hour. Of course, I now know how to do it forever.

And this isn't even the top-of-the-line TI calculator. I picture this as being a calculator which a student buys in their freshman year at an engineering school. After four years the poor schmuck has uncovered 30 or 40 percent of the functionality of the gadget, and is set for a lifetime of discovery.

Another impression I got is that this is like learning Unix from scratch. Except it's a closed platform, so more like learning the Macintosh from scratch. Only it's not easy to use, so more like a Wintel box .

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:27 PM

Angioplasty

One last item. I'll keep it short since the story is still evolving. Jean's dad had a heart attack (they think) this weekend, and after a catheterization exam, they determined that two of his arteries were 90% blocked. The options were double-bypass surgery or angioplasty. In cases of such advanced blockage, bypasses are the norm, but Jean's dad is diabetic, so losing veins for an operation is an unattractive proposition at best.

Anyway, the decision was made to perform angioplasties, and the procedure was performed this morning. Jean's dad is apparently doing fine, and will be allowed to go home after a brief observation period (24 hours?). They installed stents, one of which was 'coated'. They couldn't use two coated stents as that's not approved in America as yet (it is in some countries). Apparently, the coating is some form of immune system suppressant, to prevent additional plaque buildup.

Apparently Mr. Moyer observed that he knows other people who have lived profligate lives and have no apparent health problems at all, whereas he has always taken care of himself (his doctors agree) and yet he has to deal with this sort of problem. Well, I wish him luck, anyway.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:38 PM

Sunday Outing

Kelly and I tried to go see Snow Dogs on Sunday. We got there, Kelly all excited, and found out that the 2:35 showing was sold out. Man is Kelly's face expressive. The ticket agent said there were still tickets for the 5pm show, but I nixed it (5:15 after the trailers, the movie runs 1:37, time to drive home ten to fifteen minutes, we would have been home after 7pm). That had her even more disappointed.

So instead, we went to McDonald's Playland, where she had the Happy Meal and played with other kids for the longest time. I hadn't been planning on being there, so I hadn't brought any books to read. Stare into space, answer a million calls of "Daddy, look at me!" Snore.

About the only amusing thing about it was that while I was sitting there and Kelly was climbing in the play structure, a little kid kept coming up and trying to grab Kelly's Happy Meal toy (a 'dancing' flower pot). His mom would keep running over and taking it away from him, putting it back and flashing me an embarrassed smile. The final time, he grabbed the toy, she took it from him, he turned to Kelly's chair and knocked her coat off the back, then when mom was picking that up, he grabbed the toy again. This from a kid who was obviously no more than three years old. I was cracking up.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:31 PM

Missed Opportunities

Saturday was a NOVA night. I had plans to go with my friends afterward to see the French film Brotherhood of the Wolf with is a genre-blender of a movie, and sounded quite appealing.

Unfortunately, as you may recall, I got about two hours of sleep the previous night, and while I managed to get an hour nap Saturday afternoon, I was surely not operating at full efficiency. I let Tom know that I might not be able to make the movie after the meeting.

Then I went out to my car late in the meeting to find something in the trunk. I set my keys on a ledge in the back of the hatch, and dug around in my stuff. I found what I was looking for, pushed down the lock on the inside of the trunk hatch, and closed the trunk. Gah! As the door was swinging down, I felt that awful feeling, and could see the keys sitting there on the ledge behind the closing hatch. I'd locked myself out of my car.

A quick call home verified that there was a spare key for my car where I though it was. Alan offered to drive me home so I could get the keys. After the round-trip, I successfully got my car keys out of my car. I took the hint that I'd not be in shape to drive myself home after an additional two or three hours spent at a movie, and went home early that night .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:21 PM

The Anti-Palindrome

Jean's been reading a book on Martin Luther recommended by her sister. I just glanced at the title, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, and my brain did it's mysterious work:

"Luther: A man, a plan, Protestantism!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 PM

Pain Explained

Years and years ago I began experiencing a chronic condition wherein my head would be subjected to sharp stabbing pain, sometimes as frequently as every couple of minutes. I attributed it to a smack in the head I received from a swing when I was a wee tyke, on my way to the library with my parents in Washington, D.C. I've got a clear memory of feeling/hearing a tremendous thud, and vaguer memories of being lifted off my feet, followed by a buzzing silence and then my parents (and maybe my sister, I can't remember this at all) asking if I was okay.

When I was a teenager, my parents were having lunch in a restaurant with me, and noticed me wincing at irregular intervals. At that point I described the symptoms. Again, I can't really remember if I went to see a doctor at that time, but nothing much must have happened, as I continued to live with stabbing.

This condition comes and goes, and I've given it little notice because it never seemed to amount to anything (see above history, stretching back over the years). Finally I got fed up when I was wincing every couple of minutes and I went to see my current doctor, Dr. Selby. Less than five minutes into my explanation, he had his otoscope in my ear and was making significant noises. "Don" he asked knowingly, "were you ever a surfer?"

This came as a complete non sequitur. "No, never. I'm not even that fond of swimming." [which is another story...]

To cut to the chase, he detected that a bone in my ear canal was enlarged, causing wax to build up in the ear and place pressure on the trigeminal nerve. This condition is often observed in surfers, who are exposed to large volumes of cold water pounding into their ear canals. Hence the name of the condition, surfer's ear. I don't know how I got this extra growth of bone, but it may have something to do with me spending my youth merrily lacking a hat in the windy, wet, cold Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

A brief, painful session with what looked like a waterpick and the pain was gone! Shazzam! Dr. Selby got several brownie points that day. Combine that with his willingness to share excruciating details on every possible symptomatic regime, and he is a goldmine in General Practitioners.

So now I'm supposed to use ear drops (twice a day, four days in a row, flush with hot water on the fourth day) twice a year to avoid this condition. Trouble is that it doesn't follow a clock, and it crept up on me so that I was having nasty stabbing pain by Friday night. I didn't sleep more than two hours that evening. So I've begun the regimen, and should be done by Tuesday evening. The frequency of stabs has already gone down tremendously.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 PM

Invader Zim

I watched this show with Kelly yesterday, fully paying attention to it for the first time. And it's my new favorite cartoon show! It has super art design, the writing is just hilariously off kilter, I can't even begin to explain it. It just is too cool.

So far, when I read a cancellation of a show I've been watching, I've actually had to agree (see Tick and X-Files). But now I find out that Nickelodeon is planning to cancel Invader Zim! C'mon guys, I just found this show. I was laughing out loud, already, for cripes sakes!

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:46 PM

January 20, 2002

Ex-Files

It's official, the X-Files is ending this year. Not everybody cares for this show, but for many of it's nine years, it was my favorite show on television.

It started slumping seriously last year, and this year, creator Chris Carter has been trying hard to recapture his core audience. Unfortunately, I think he mistakes who his core audience is, since most of the episodes this season focus on government conspiracy, one of my least favorite aspects of the show. Additionally, there has been a tendency to make the show more ensemble oriented, and the trend shows no sign of slowing. Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish try hard, but I'm not really interested in seeing them 'role-reverse' Mulder and Scully.

So much as I hate to say it, nine seasons is definitely enough. I've got a show on tape I haven't watched for a week. I expect I'll catch all the remaining episodes, but it's more out of a sense of nostalgia and closure than anticipation any more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:30 PM

January 18, 2002

Dead End, Literally

I finally managed to work in some game time, but I'm stuck. I've gotten my party killed twice trying to cross a forest. I don't know if I'll ever be able to beat it from this save point, so I may end up backing up a couple of save spots. At least Kelly didn't get my party killed this time. It's my own fault.

Taking a break now...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM

QOTD

Jean is taking a nutrition class this term. They're making her record all the items she eats as a project: precisely how much, nutritional components, time of day...

It's a measure of Jean's personality that she's actually putting off eating things when it might require some calculation. She was talking about it and came up with this gem:

"I'd rather be crabby and hungry than do math."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 PM

January 17, 2002

The Tyranny of Style Sheets

I like 'em in general, but dislike that most browsers use the font-families specified in the style sheet over those specified by the user (okay, some of them let you choose in 'preferences', but the default is set to use the site's specified fonts if available).

So I'm experimenting with turning off most of the font-family directives in my style sheet. Lemme know if this is worse or better...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:43 PM

Strings and Woodwinds

Gah! It's driving me nuts! I'm working on a spec now, but that damn puzzle room theme music is playing over and over and over in my head. I tried playing my Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack album, but it just didn't work. Now I know why people buy game soundtrack albums even when they own the stinking game.

For the record, I didn't play last night because I was working with the contractor on the gas insert downstairs. I had to postpone 'self-study night' as well. Well, you can bet your bippy I'm gonna play FFX tonight if I have to stay up til midnight to accomplish it!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:47 PM

January 16, 2002

The Fire This Time

It's installed, it's working, it's warm!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:43 PM

Quest For Fire

I just realized that I'd failed to document our Friday visit by the fireplace contractors. Why did I realize it now? Because I just got off the phone with Jean, who was reporting on the visit by the city inspector. He's convinced we won't all die from CO poisoning or gas asphyxiation. We just need to get the contractors to seal one entry point with 'fire caulk' when they come to hook it up (they aren't allowed to do the final connections until the inspection has been completed).

So working backwards from the successful inspection...

Friday was a pain. I have most of this second-hand, since Jean dealt with it for most of the day. The contractors arrived around 11am and dragged Jean around the house while they examined the setup and decided how they were going to do the job. Jean tells me it took them two hours just to decide it was possible, and then they needed a decision on whether they should continue, since there were some irregularities which would complicate the job.

I got a call from the contractors' office just before I had to go into a big work meeting. I listened to all the hoo-hah, and hung up. Jean called right on their heels, and asked me to help her decide what to do. But as I had a truly important meeting, I asked Jean to decide. I'm afraid I was a bit testy (more on this later). Time passed...

When I got home that evening, it was clear that Jean had told them to go ahead, as they were working on it. All told, they were working on the insert until about 9:30 pm. I think Allen, the main contractor, wanted to complete the job in one day because he had another on Saturday. We picked up in the basement family room and went to bed.

Saturday when driving to get groceries, Jean and I had a heart to heart talk, and she let me know how much work she had to do (how much time she had to sacrifice from her studies, really) to get this insert in. I apologized for being testy at work, and thanked her for all the time sacrificed. Kelly got to see first hand that grown-up partners can have disagreements, and talk them out reasonably, as she was in the carseat behind us during this discussion.

So flashing forward to the present, we are hoping that the contractors can come by today to finish the hookup. Jean is going to call me to let me know if I have to cover for her while she gets Kelly from school this afternoon, in which case I'll race home, then back to work for a late day. Updates later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 AM

School Days

Kelly's homework last night was two tasks:

Write "The cat was on the little mat" several times and be prepared to spell each word. I watched her practice each word on paper, then I walked her into the kitchen, where there was a whiteboard for her to practice on without the example sheet. She got every word right!

Read Little Bear Visits His Grandparents. By 6-year old standards this is a long book, and I took Jean's advice: Kelly read a page, then I read one, and so on. She did very well, but the book took us around 45 minutes.

At bedtime Jean was quizzing Kelly on her cat sentence, and Kelly was able to spell every word, even 'little'. I'm very pleased.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM

Must ... Play ... FFX!

Gah. The 'puzzle room' theme from Final Fantasy X is running through my head continuously this morning. It's been a few days since I played. I stopped at Djose Temple after getting a new Aeon (by playing my way through a puzzle room, oddly enough), because there was a Tutorial panel there on the best way to fight certain monsters, and I wanted to take notes .

So I need a block of time just to 'study' before I can play again. Last night I was feeling under the weather, so that wasn't the right time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2002

Breakeven

I'm about to reveal a fact which may shock some of my family not familiar with the current game console market. A new game for the PS2 can cost around $50. There, I said it. Why is this relevant? Because with such a price tag, one might occasionally want to know if they've gotten their money's worth.

I crossed the twenty hour mark of cumulative gameplay on Final Fantasy X this weekend. For me, a general benchmark of value is seeing a movie in a theatre. This is because I enjoy going to movies so much. Currently, movies at matinee prices in the Portland Metro area run $5.25. An average movie runs around two hours. So twenty hours of gameplay is ten movies, or $52.50 of tickets. Voila, I am even!

Disclaimer: this benchmark does not take into account the quality of movies I have seen.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:16 AM

Nothing Happened This Weekend

Jean and I saw a movie together while Kelly was visiting her friend Trinity. We saw The Royal Tannenbaums which was much better than I'd set my expectations for. It was unusual in that a sizable chunk of the movie was narrated (by Alex Baldwin), rather than directly revealed in the action. It didn't really tell a story so much as present a lot of episodes in the life of a dysfunctional family. The larger than life characters and extended family reminded me a lot of John Irving.

We picked up Kelly afterwards, hanging out for awhile with Sari, Trinity's grandma. She's a cool person, and Jean and I both get along well with her. She works at a food testing laboratory, and has recently taken to giving us food product from the test lots. We got about a dozen salad dressings a couple of weeks ago, and this time, she gave Jean a couple of bags of yeast. I joked "let me know if you get some wasabi."

She went running into the other room, and emerged a few moments later with a container of dry wasabi! I was just joking, honest!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:08 AM

January 11, 2002

High Concept Nostalgia

MTV has announced they are coming out with a branded line of computers to appeal to the college-age crowd.

In other news, you can now bid on a Superman Lunchbox dating from 1967 starting at $25.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:51 PM

Humor Rules For Six-year Olds

Rule One: If a joke is funny the first time you tell it, it will be funny the twentieth time you tell it.

Rule Two: If Rule One fails, tell it again, then ... Laugh. Real. Hard.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:30 AM

Final Fantasy Distractions

Everything you do in Final Fantasy X is building towards a final confrontation with the Uber-boss monster, Sin. One of the infrequent but recurring activities is acquiring Aeons (read: big monsters that fight for your team). If you don't get the Aeons, there are probably going to be battles which you won't be able to win; certainly the 'final' battle will be lost (I'm guessing).

So how do you get Aeons? Your Summoner, named Yuna, a pseudo-religious figure, must visit a temple of Yevon and pray for purification. What this ultimately boils down to in terms of gameplay is that your player-character, Tidus, has to solve a puzzle room to get to the area where the Aeon will be granted.

I've gone through this once before, and have two Aeons (the first was one Yuna had to start with). So last night Kelly and I were sitting downstairs playing the Temple of Djose scenario. Kelly wanted to solve the puzzle. She played and played, asked questions, tried everything she could think of, and eventually the clock ran out on her and it was bedtime.

After I put everyone else to bed, I went back down and noodled for something like thirty minutes on variations to the 'puzzle'. Finally I struck on the sequence of actions which let me progress to the temple chambers, and we got our Aeon.

My complaint with this puzzle is that it is more of an obstruction than a puzzle. I'm sure when the programmers and designers were working out this puzzle, it had a model in their mind. They probably thought the various glowing glyphs and patterns sent out clear messages that the logical game-playing mind would use to construct the solution. And it is true that most every part of the puzzle room played a role in solving the puzzle. But, and this is a big but, none of that is obvious to the neophyte player.

To prove the point, the following morning before going to work, I described to Kelly what sequence of moves I made to 'open' the puzzle. It took me two minutes, and I enumerated something like ten steps. When I was done, Kelly and I were both laughing our fool heads off.

I'm really tempted to write a walkthrough on just this one puzzle for Gamefaqs.com just to document how arbitrary it really is.

Still, I'm still playing...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 AM

Live 'Tick' Series Cancelled

Here's the article. I'm not surprised. It isn't, as some claim, because the show was placed in a competitive timeslot, or that it was an intelligent show on Fox (stupid viewers). In fact, it was just deadly dull. Best QOTD: It's probably because PBS put Frontline on in the same timeslot.

I read the comic, and it was great. Ben Edlund's humor worked so well in the graphic print medium. The cartoon show was different, but translated very well. The television show, well ... aside from changing characters, paring the cast down to sitcom size and otherwise keeping a featherweight budget, somehow failed to capture that off-kilter banter which Edlund generated so successfully in the original.

Patrick Warburton is a fun character actor, and may have been the best choice for a live-action Tick, but his dialog just didn't have any syncopation. It felt like he was calling in the part.

I watched three episodes of this show. The second one, because I forgot about it's premiere, and two over the Christmas holidays, when everything else was in reruns. I'm not planning on making an effort to see the other five. Sorry, the show just sucked.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

January 10, 2002

Milk Dud Memories

I have a flakey long-term memory. Go back more than ten years, and I have a very difficult time remembering details of my life. So it was with some surprise that I had a flash of memory the other night.

Kelly was eating some candy out of a box, and Jean explained that it was a free sample. I asked Kelly what it was, and she read the label: "Milk Duds, Daddy."

My mind went spiraling back to my own childhood. I was sitting in a theatre with a tub of popcorn and a box of Milk Duds. I took a handful of popcorn, nestled a Milk Dud in the middle, and popped the whole conglomeration into my mouth. The taste and texture of the two 'foods' in my mouth is vivid even now. This was how I ate Milk Duds when a child, without fail!

So sensory memories can be the strongest, even if they lie dormant for decades. Cool.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:00 AM

I Even Washed My Hands Later

When Kelly was younger and attended the Mentor daycare (Child Development Center, CDC for you TLA lovers), I'd occasionally go over to visit with her around lunchtime. Often enough that it didn't seem a fluke, I got mobbed by lots of little munchkins. Maybe they did it to everybody, but I never saw them swarm another adult like they did me.

So today I took Kelly to school at Bridgeport, and we had to wait at a crossing for a schoolbus to clear the lane. Standing near us was a young boy, about Kelly's age. He sidled up to me, and as I was warming my hands in my pockets, he snaked his hand into my pocket and tried to grab my hand.

I pulled my hand away and asked "do I know you?"

"Uh huh. I'm Gavin."

Well, I swear that even if this kid had been introduced to me, it wasn't as his long-lost father! He kept trying to grab my hand, until finally I put Kelly's backpack in my right hand, and her hand in my left. We went inside, and the kid tried to hug me while I was trying to get Kelly settled. Who are you, kid?!!?

Other than his unusual affection, he seemed normal enough, for a six-year old. But he creeps me out.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

January 09, 2002

Balance

Yay! Three evenings without playing FFX! (Yeah, I broke my streak by playing on Sunday -- it was every bit as gruesome as I'd feared -- the game AI finally brought in a high-level non-player character (NPC) to rescue my butt before it got toasted). At this rate, I'll be able to claim I'm normal in no time!

Of course, the alternative has been the bruised toe gallery, so you decide which is worse... By the way, if you haven't read the Welcome message recently, because you are one of my (two) regular readers, click on the picture of Kelly to see the candid Christmas snaps associated with it. Not all are flattering, but they're faithful to life.

See you toe-morrow!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:45 PM

Bon Mots II

Kelly's Draedl song wasn't all she had in her. Later she grabbed me while I was sitting at the computer, and nearly speared my hand with her sharp nails. "Ow! You've got sharp nails!"

Kelly, in her best America Online voice, pointing at the screen to indicate a pop-up: "You've got sharp nails!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:42 PM

Bon Mots I

I was tussling with Kelly last night, and chanted in a sing-song voice "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly". She didn't miss a beat:

Kelly, to the tune of Draedl: I made her out of clay ... And when she's dry and ready, with Kelly I will play!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:38 PM

As The Toes Turn (Color)

Second Toes Image, Small My toes, the second day! How annoying for you my reader .

I only wish I'd thought of this when I wrecked my ankle!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:33 PM

January 08, 2002

Tidbits

New Banner Time again. This time it's a whiteboard drawing from that famous primitivist artist, Kelly Rene. If you miss the old one, just go to the images directory and have a browse.

On a more medical note, I'm not hobbling anymore. If I put serious weight on the toes they scream, but I can walk without a noticeable limp. I am a little slower than usual though. Wish me luck.

I just found out from Jean that the gas insert is going to take several days to go live. Friday, install by contractors. Monday following, inspection by the City of Tualatin. Then finally Wednesday next, the contractors come by and turn everything on. I don't want to wait!

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:06 PM

iPhoto Not For Me

'In one fell swoop, it replies to almost any argument that any non-professional camera user could raise as to why they still prefer traditional cameras to digital cameras' -- Ted Landau.

Um... Batteries, 'Film' capacity, Resolution, ISO, Dynamic Range. These are some of the things that even a point-and-shoot such as the Yashica T4 Super can do better than a whole raft of digital cameras can. Don't get me wrong, I love my Nikon Coolpix 950, but it is limited in ways that even Photoshop can't fix.

Ted Landau's MacFixit quip seems mainly impressed by the bundled ability to order prints of digital photos online. But as I mention above, that's only a piece of the puzzle. Jeff Keller gives a quick review of the functionality, pointing out several other shortcomings, not least of which is that it requires MacOS X. Add to that the fact that version 1.0 lacks even a basic 'sharpen' feature, and I won't be throwing away my ancient copy of Photoshop 4.2 anytime soon.

This is another overhyped item from the wave of hype Apple generated this time at Macworld. Next.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

Moses Supposes His Toeses Are Roses

Autopsy Photo As promised, here's the gruesome image, taken 14 hours after the incident. I was in no mood last night to snap photos, or there'd probably be a much more colorful photo to look at.

Now don't say I never do anything to gross you out!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:53 AM

January 07, 2002

On My Toes

This afternoon I went over to the Mentor gym and spent some time on the treadmill. Afterwards I was walking across the tile floor to the shower when I slipped, and catching myself I bent two of my smaller toes on my right foot way over. Right now they smart like the dickens.

I'm gonna wait a day or two, and if the pain doesn't decrease markedly, I'll make an appointment to get them x-rayed. I doubt it'll result in a cast either way, so I'm not investing a lot of anguish in it. Add the toes to the ankle and maybe in a few years I'll need a wooden foot .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:44 PM

Browser Agnosticism

Cameron Barrett writes:

"Hey, you know those one or two people who keep hitting your site with Netscape 4.x and Lynx? Well, that's me! Just keeping you on your toes..."

Tee hee. I've always taken the stand that NOVA's website should be inclusive, eschewing flashy ... er Flash programs, dynamic html and Java applets in favor of being readable by anyone with any browser and hardware configuration. Okay, I experimented with a DHTML pop-out toolbar one time, but quickly convinced myself of it's flakiness.

Contrarily, this weblog uses CSS Style Sheets which definiltely do not render on older browsers. As my audience is a small circle of friends and family, I don't feel the same constraints that I did when designing a 'benevolent club' website. So you mostly won't find any TABLE tags in this website, unless they're generated by Greymatter.

But you most likely won't see Flash or Java applets here either, as they are often horrendous kludges, and serve to make the site less accessible, rather than more. For a good example of that, try visiting Tokyo Pop sometime. Try buying something through their website. Part of their problem is their database design, but part is the site layout and implementation. What browser were they testing this with?!!? I've tried everything, including the industry gorilla of Internet Explorer (though admittedly running on a Mac), and menus tread on graphics (and vice versa), links fail to activate... Geeze. It's like they don't actually want business.

Maybe they have such a small staff that they can only handle like twenty orders a week, so they deliberately make it hard to use their site. Like the old saw that claims the standard typewriter keyboard is purposely designed to slow down typists to avoid jamming the mechanical keys together...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:15 PM

The iLamp

The new Apple iMac is pretty neat. The pundits are pointing out that it's not the first computer to have a swing-arm LCD, but I think I like it. I might even consider getting one eventually to replace my aging Powermac 8500/120.

But is this supposed to match the hype even Apple was generating? Taking it in combination with the other items mentioned, such as iPhoto, I'd have to say no. Apple's PR department gets a black eye this time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:59 PM

January 06, 2002

Weekend Field Trips

I ran several errands this weekend, of which I'll highlight two. The first was a trip to trade in books at Powell's. I had two credit slips already, one dating from 1996! That's what happens when you clean out your closets.

I picked up two different editions of The Velveteen Rabbit for Kelly, Surfing Through Hyperspace for Jean and I, and a combo-book of three novels by Nancy Collins for me.

Then in an effort to combat Kelly's encroachment of my game time on the Gameboy Advance, I went to Toys R Us and used the last of my Christmas money to buy her her own Gameboy Color and a game, Tigger's Honey Hunt. Let's hope that's enough!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:54 PM

Gas, Gas, Gas

Late this week sees the installation of a gas insert for our basement fireplace. I'm looking forward to it. The basement gets cold when winter kicks in. The heat vent in the ceiling just doesn't work so well when confronted with Jack Frost.

This model is a closed system, drawing air for the flames from down the flue, and exhausting waste gases up the flue by a separate pipe. It has a blower, for when the electricity is working (!) and a wireless remote thermostat that runs on batteries, for when the electricity isn't working. According the the guy at the shop, the fireplace works with a thermocouple, so even in the absence of electricity, it can adjust the flames with the battery powered remote thermostat. Cool!

So next time the power goes out for more than an hour--and judging from the history at this house in Tualatin, that will be very infrequent--we'll be able to move our activities downstairs and remain toasty for the entire outage.

Now to investigate that gas-powered refrigerator .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:35 PM

Multitasking Redux

I managed to pass Thursday, Friday and Saturday not playing Final Fantasy X. The rest period was very helpful. One night, Thursday, I think, I was downstairs in the 'family room', and I was trying to get the Haskell Graphics Library working with my Mac OS X iBook. I've got XFree86 installed, and Mac OS X is a BSD (Unix) based OS, so I had hopes that I could get the graphics working under X. But while I've managed to leap several hurdles, I ran into a dead end on Thursday (multiple defines of _initModule), and I need more time to resolve it. I knew I was into trouble when I discovered that Mac OS X treats shared libraries and dynamically loaded libraries differently.

While doing this, I had my ReplayTV playing Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster. As if that wasn't enough, I had ICQ running, and was holding a periodic conversation with Tom, Alan, et. al. on various topics, including what movie we were going to see on Saturday (which turned out to be Imposter, based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name).

I do love a multitasking evening!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:24 PM

January 02, 2002

Sigh

I know I'm back at work. A while ago, my boss swung by to share the good news about financials for my group last year. After telling me, he mentioned that he'd tell everyone else, but he "couldn't find anybody."

I didn't think of it at the time, but he was truly puzzled that nobody was in besides me yet. And the time: 8:15am. He's a real go-getter, that one...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:08 AM

Super-Saiya-Thumbs!

Before anyone else mentions it, yes, Goku's thumbs are backwards (in the banner photo). Kelly put the hands on, and her aesthetic is beyond that of mere mortals .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

Vacation From Vacation

I'm back at work! Yipee!

I played FFX yesterday without Kelly and managed to get past the point where we got killed on New Year's Eve. Then she insisted on coming down to play for a half hour before her bedtime. That left me in the middle of play between save points, so after I put her to bed, I played long enough to reach one. It took me until 10:15pm! I forced myself to quit at that point. And good thing too. When I slept last night, I was doing turn-based dreaming, complete with menus and save points.

Amusingly, my last save point was at what looked like a major story point. The Al Bhaed are preparing for a battle with the Uber Boss Monster at the edge of the sea using 'machina', in this case cannons. Machina are forbidden by the major religion, and all my characters are standing by bemoaning this fact. And my save time: 13:13 hours on the game clock. Scary, kids! OOOOooooohhh!!!

I think I'll take tonight off, since it's a self-study night and I'll be getting home in the evening as it is. Maybe a couple of days away from FFX would be a good idea. As the title says, I need a vacation from my vacation...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:17 AM

January 01, 2002

The Honeymoon Is Over: Final Fantasy X

As of last night I've logged on the order of nine hours (game clock, I'm sure it's been even more in the 'real world') playing FFX. My initial impressions have held pretty true. The game is about 80% 'movie' fragments, and 20% interaction, usually in battles against various minor and boss monsters, though also in dialog with minor characters.

Most recently they introduced a minigame, Blitzball, which as expected, I sucked at. If winning a Blitzball game is not pivotal to the plot, I'll be okay, but if the authors insist on my succeeding at the arcade stuff, then the game will eventually languish on the shelf without my finishing it. This is a very real possibility, as the link above claims: "Blitzball is not a 'mini-game' by any accounts since it plays a major role in the story."

The holidays are almost over, so soon my progress will slow to a crawl. Even with the holidays, I spend less time playing the game than I actually want to. Two nights ago I started playing at 9pm, with the intention of playing an hour or two then going to bed, and ended up playing til 1am! Yesterday evening, New Year's Eve, I went down at 8:30pm and played til 11:30pm, with Kelly contributing. That sort of schedule won't wash when I have to get up for work in the morning. And even weekends generally don't tolerate that sort of schedule, since I have a family life which makes it's own demands.

Between playing this game and the Oracle of Ages game on my GBA handheld, I've had enough time to truly assess where I am in the game-playing menagerie. I'm a casual player, and will probably remain so for the next decade. There are basically four reasons for this:

Skill

As I've mentioned before, I suck at games requiring speed and dexterity. This is partly why I favor the RPG games. A lot of interesting things can happen before I end up encountering something that requires dexterity and I get whacked. I was going to title this section Age, but I'm sure there are guys my age who can still hold their own against a mean platform game.

Life

Chunks of time where I can disappear for hours at a time are rare. After a full day's work, there's parenting, and interacting with Jean. I enjoy this enough that I don't resent not having time to play games. And it's not as if external demands are all that keep me away from the PS2. I also dedicate some of my precious time to strength training to keep my back from collapsing entirely. And after a full day of demanding cogitation, I sometimes only want to flop down for an hour before bed and vegetate before the tv or with a book. So holidays are the biggest time for attacking those games.

Interference

I got the Gameboy Advance so I'd have a handheld that I could carry around with me, to Kelly's swim class, and other places where I'm basically just sitting around waiting for the next activity. Unfortunately, now that I've got Oracle of Ages, Kelly won't let me play it. She spent several hours playing with it after I started it. Now she's doing something else, but the moment I turn it on, she'll be there, murmuring "let me, let me."

The same thing has been happening with Final Fantasy X. She has been coming down while I play and asking for the controller. Last night, she inserted herself into the gameplay and kept the game moving forward while I went upstairs to use the restroom and get a glass of water. The main problem here is that she doesn't want to take time to explore, finding potions and whatnot. She wants to charge down the path, and every time we run into a monster, she throws the controller at me and hunkers down under her blanket. That happened may fifteen times last night, with my players getting progressively weaker, until they all got KO'ed, and I saw the 'Game Over' sign for the first time. Fortunately, I have been saving at every opportunity, so I have a number of choices for restarting without running everything from the beginning. But it is clear that while Kelly is in the house, I'm not master of my own destiny.

Style

This is the final problem here. My interest is mostly in RPGs (role-playing games), preferably with rich storylines. I'm not nearly as interested in arcade-style action as I used to be, though I still enjoy dipping my toes into the pool now and then. But when playing an RPG, I want story first, mini-games and thud-and-blunder dead last. But even the RPGs nowadays are targetted at a different demographic than mine. Gotta satisfy that twitchy-finger crowd. As a result, I can't get the perfect game.

If I wanted to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a Wintel box with a powerful graphics card and lots of memory just to play games, I could get a few good matches, such as Black and White (which I just found out is coming out on the Macintosh! One Problem Solved!) and The Lost, that seem to be closer to my preferences. But I'm not playing games nearly often enough to justify constant investment in hardware. Maybe an Xbox? Not now, that's for sure. Maybe when Kelly hits her teens and wants nothing to do with me .

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:38 PM

December 30, 2001

This Is Not Your Father's Goku

The New Banner Is Here! The New Banner Is Here! Yes, I've finally gotten off my keyster and uploaded an image. This one is of Son Goku, or just Goku, from Dragonball Z. Jean got Kelly a snap-together model as a stocking stuffer, seeing as how Kelly is fond of the show, thanks to Cartoon Network.

It was a bear to put together, mostly because the directions referred constantly to a part's position on plastic frames. If you have ever assembled a model you know what I'm talking about. Parts of the model are strung together on a plastic frame, due to the lot of them being injection molded into a form. The problem arose because Kelly had helpfully removed many of the tiny nondescript parts from the frames ahead of time. Fortunately, with some trial and error, we got it figured out.

This photo is one of my few attempts at macro photography, since my digital camera, the Nikon Coolpix 950, though it supposedly has one of the best macro modes in the digital camera world, lacks one thing: the ability to take photos with a timer in macro mode. This forces me to manually click the shutter button, which can jiggle the camera, and therefore blur the macro image. But this one turned out pretty good, don't you think? I used my inexpensive Slik U8000 tripod I got off of Ebay to steady the shot, somewhat.

Before the holidays are over, I'll try to replace the 'Candid Kelly' shot in the Welcome message with a new one from Christmas. Jean tells me that none of them are all that flattering this year, characterizing the 'best' two as Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and I'm Gonna Hurl!

But I like 'em both, so you'll get at least one, and possibly both crammed onto the home page.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:31 PM

December 29, 2001

E. Coli in the Box

Not the first simultaneously strange and clever thing Jean's ever said (in fact she logged two more today already), but it stuck in my head. Regarding some new construction near our home, one building of which is a two-story affair, surrounded by signs declaring 'Coming soon! Jack-in-the-Box!', I remarked, "who ever heard of a two-story Jack-in-the-Box?"

Jean, who was driving, replied in a somewhat distracted fashion: "It's probably just, you know ... architecture."

I think I hurt myself laughing after that one sank in...

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:38 PM

December 28, 2001

New Timesink

Being perfectly honest with myself, I have to admit that I have more PS2 and PS One games than I am likely to finish in the next year, given my normal lifestyle and schedule. Some are RPGs with definitive goals; haven't played any of them to completion yet. Some of them are platform games or other arcade style games, where you just play until you get good or get tired of them. I haven't done either on any of them.

So naturally, having another long weekend coming up, and money in my pocket from Christmas, I ran down to Fry's and bought another game. But this one was special. It is Final Fantasy X, the first Final Fantasy game made especially for the PS2. I went downstairs to just play the opening animations, around 5:30 pm, and just now came up, 2-1/2 hours later. This is one beautiful game. It remains to be seen how interesting it is, since I'm in the early stages where a lot of backstory is being pumped out.

Anyway, as this weekend is exceptional, I expect I'll get six or eight hours into it and then stall for lack of time and energy. In the meantime, it's a lot of fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 PM

December 26, 2001

Downtown Torpedoes

I've had this in my 'to watch' pile since Anime Expo 2001 this summer. This review details the particulars of the movie's cast, locations and plot, better than I can. In any case, I popped it in Christmas night, as everyone was worn out but I had some energy left.

I have to say that much as I enjoy Hong Kong movies, and the goofy high energy they oftentimes exhibit, this one was mediocre at best. So often they shot for 'cool' and came up 'luke-warm'. A car chase that looked more like a caravan (they shake the chasers by pulling their spy truck, conveniently disguised as a bottled water truck, into a bottled water plant). A couple of double-crosses telegraphed across the length of the movie. Computer hacking that would be laughable even if you didn't know something about computers as I do.

Overall, while some of the actors were personable, I thought they were wooden and underutilized throughout the movie. So while I'd let a friend watch this movie, I'd have to give it a 'B-' as my recommendation.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:00 PM

December 25, 2001

Successful Christmas

I won't bore you with the full laundry list of who got what. Suffice to say that Kelly enjoyed herself and hasn't yet exhausted the store of new toys to play with. I got Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and disappeared for an hour or so playing with my Game Boy Advance.

We went down to Mentor to feed the ducks, a family tradition which we whimsically pretend will bring us luck in the following year. I had time to do strength training, and spent a goodly part of the day breaking down boxes and picking up trash.

One thing which worked well this year is that I used an Amazon Wish List to express some of the things I wanted. Jean bought from that, so she didn't need to give me cash this year (something I've always said I preferred before, since I usually know better what I want than anyone else, but don't always have a list handy).

The remainder of the day will be spent lazing about. If I'm feeling exceptionally motivated in the next several days, I'll try to upload a few Christmas images, though I didn't take very many this year. Just feeling lazy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:11 PM

December 24, 2001

Ghost Squirrel

Jean wrote up a conversation we had with Kelly while driving to swim class a couple of weeks ago. Since Jean is the humor columnist for a local paper, she embellished it somewhat, but the general shape of the conversation and the ideas therein are actually pretty close to what was actually said.

I don't actually talk the way she writes me (do I?), but the bit with the crutches is mine. Missing is my more evil and insane commentary (and he had a hook!). Just click on the link at the bottom of this article to get to Jean's actual article...

These 10-minute drives can drive you crazy

by Jean Wakefield

We're heading down Tualatin-Sherwood Road to the YMCA for Kelly's swimming class.

Kelly: "Mom, how do you spell sprite?"

Me: "S-p-r-i-t-e. If you mean the pop, then you capitalize it because it's a name. Why?"

Kelly: "It's from Scrooge. You know, the Sprite of Christmas Past."

Me: "I think you mean spirit. Were you watching it in the basement? The acoustics down there are terrible. Bryant Gumble sounds like Bob Dylan."

My husband: "There's no Sprite in the basement. Only Mr. Pibb, and I drank it."

Kelly: "Not in the basement. In the hallway. There's such a thing as spirits, you know. I saw them last night going past my room."

My husband: "Those are boxelder bugs."

Kelly: "No, ghosts. But only children can see them. Did you ever see a ghost a hundred years ago when you were little, Mom?"

Me: "I know someone who saw a ghost when she was a kid. But if there is such a thing as a ghost, I think it's just a spot like the hallway playing the memory of a person over and over like a tape recording. A ghost isn't a person who's out to get you. That's spelled l-a-w-y-e-r."

Kelly: "Well, I saw a young ghost. A 15-year-old. She didn't die regular. It was a car accident. Yup, what a pity. Can I have a Cremesaver?"

Me: "Her parents must've been devastated."

Kelly: "Her mother caught cancer and her father died of the dog flu. That's a bad kind of flu. Her brother got the chicken pox, a very serious kind, and he died."

My husband: "Sign that family up for the Good Health Plan."

Kelly: "Then her pet squirrel died from polio. But he didn't die right away. It took him a while."

My husband: "What a sad sight, that poor squirrel dragging himself around the neighborhood with a tin cup."

Kelly: "It was only in his toe. His toe didn't work because of polio."

Me: "Ah. So he had toe-lio."

My husband: "They rubbed it with oleo to see if it would grow-lio."

Kelly: "Did not. They had to amputate it."

My husband: "It must have been hard for him to scamper up trees with a bum toe."

Kelly: "He didn't go up trees. He was a ground squirrel."

Me: "At least we can take comfort knowing that he now has a rich spirit life surrounded by nuts."

Kelly: "And he used crutches."

My husband; "Now that he's dead, do you hear his ghost clambering around on the roof?"

Me: "Scamper-scamper clunk. Scamper-scamper clunk. Hey, I'm allergic to ghosts. We should call in an exorcist."

Kelly: "You could ask at the YMCA. They've got exercisists there."

Me: "Okay. I'll sign you up for a swimming class and an exorcism."

My husband: "Hey! If you pass this session, maybe you'll be moved up to ground squirrel."

Kelly: "Dad. Don't be silly. Squirrels can't swim!"

My husband: "But you better work hard. If you flunk you get dropped down to drowned squirrel."

Kelly: "Can we just have quiet in this car? You're giving me a headache."

Me: "I'd like to point out that this whole conversation could've been avoided if our country would initiate a comprehensive rodent vaccination program. Please give generously. Thank you."

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 PM

Christmas Eve Reveries

Kelly is wired. She reminds me every few minutes that tomorrow is Christmas. I tried telling her that due to a labor shortage, Christmas had to be postponed until the weekend. She was rather cross with me over that.

Then I tried a different tack:

Me: Did you remember to pay the Christmas tax?

Kelly: Yep!

Me: Did you remember to apply for your Christmas Visitation License?

Kelly: Yes. It's hanging on the wall in the living room where Santa Claus can see it.

Jean (from the kitchen): Don't forget we have to put out the milk and cookies too!

Me: I've heard that Santa is trying to lose some weight. He's asked people to offer him a glass of red wine and a bowl of grapes now instead.

Kelly: Da-ad! No he doesn't!

Me: But I still think he'd appreciate something else. Maybe an apple or some cheese?

Kelly: Uh huh. We could put some cheese on the plate for him, sliced flat. One half of the plate would be cookies, the other half would be cheese.

Things just kept getting sillier from there, but you get the idea. Earlier Jean asked me if 6am would be okay for getting up, or should we make Kelly wait until 6:30? I commented that given the choice between 11 lashes with a whip and 12, I'd still complain about receiving 11. I'm going to try finding excuses to wake Kelly up a few times before midnight. She doesn't like this idea, as she thinks Santa won't come, but I told her "He knows when you are sleeping, remember?" Somehow that creeped her out, and she yelled at me. Oh well. I don't think I'll be able to force myself to bed early enough to compensate, so I've got dibs on a nap tomorrow.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 PM

A Russet By Any Other Name

Is it just me, or are pierogies and knishes just exercises in different scale? I've never had a knish, to the best of my knowledge, but the descriptions I find online sound like large pierogies. And I do like pierogies a lot. Anyone know?

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 PM

December 19, 2001

Blocked or Lazy?

Last Thursday we lost power, as I've mentioned. What I've neglected to mention is that the wireless router we use, the Airport Base Station, failed after this event. A power surge just before the outage may be responsible, but there is a known flaw in early models where two capacitors on the circuit board fail. Because of this, I was able to get Apple Customer Relations to agree to send me a replacement.

But it isn't here yet, so I've been remiss in posting. Finally I couldn't stand it, and I'm posting here at work. Other things will have to wait though, such as a humorous essay written by Jean, relating an only slightly fictionalized conversation between Jean, Kelly and I in the car last Saturday. I'll post it as soon as I can, but suffice to say it has to do with ghosts, squirrels, polio and other odd subjects.

As for why I've not posted the pictures from our trip to the coast yet, well, that was all just getting used to the iMac, and as soon as the router is working I'll try to get a few up, at least changing the banner above. Yeah, that's the ticket. Just you wait...

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:48 PM

The Fellowship

As the year looms to a close, I've got tons of unclaimed vacation time. So guess what I did today? That's right, I went to the first showing of Fellowship of the Ring. This knowing full well that I'll definitely be seeing it again come Saturday night with the post-NOVA crowd.

I just couldn't help myself, you see. Though I haven't read the books in decades, literally (and doesn't that make me feel older to declare it), I remember the great pleasure I took in reading them as a youngster. There was one summer when I read all four books (counting The Hobbit) three times in a row. They were so rich, multithreaded and imbued with substance, reading more as a history than a story.

Add to that that Peter Jackson is a director of great diversity and a quirky vision who just stands a chance of capturing that history, without compromise, and I couldn't wait. So I left at lunchtime, and am writing my impressions up before returning to work. Don't look for a full review, as this is a movie which will receive enough exposure without my petty voice.

First impressions:

Let's de-emphasize that last one around Jean, shall we? I jest, she knows I'm ever faithful to her.

So is it worth seeing two times, as I shall? Without a doubt, if you are a Tolkein fan or just generally into well done fantasy stories. I wish they'd release the other movies closer together than yearly, as I know they were being shot concurrently, and I really don't want to wait.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:15 PM

Waiting for Gameboy

Yes! I can't wait (okay, I have to, but it's hard). PortableMonopoloy.com continues to discuss his prototype for a frontlight modification to the Game Boy Advance, which is notoriously difficult to use in dim light.

What's got me worked up is he now has a screenshot of Castlevania, Circle of the Moon, a game which I own, running on his modified prototype. And it looks great! Castlevania is the darkest game (in terms of lumens) available for the GBA, so I can only use it under a bright lamp, which is kinda constricting as I tend to use the GBA mainly in the spectator area of the YMCA swimming pool while Kelly takes swimming lessons. That, and knitting.

So I'm on his list of folks interested in buying the kit when he gets it together, and I'm now bouncing up and down on my chair, 'cause ... I can't wait!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 AM

December 18, 2001

Nomad Dad

I tried to call my Dad to wish him a happy birthday today. I used the number I thought was the corrected one. Wrong number. Then I used the one in the letter from his wife, off by one digit. Wrong number. I don't think he wants to hear about his birthday .

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:21 PM

Season of Darkness

We are entering the wet, windy winter of Oregon, and with it comes power outages. When we lived in Portland (Tigard, really, but we were in one of those Gerrymandered little curlicues belonging to Portland), we would lose power at least once every winter, and if we were lucky, it would last less than a couple of days. More standard would be a power outage which lasted a week.

Since we moved to Tualatin, the land of buried power lines, this has become less of a problem. Now, we seldom experience outages at all, and when we do, they amount to less than an hour, minutes more often. However, Thursday we had the most 'dramatic' outage we've had in awhile. The power went out around 6:45pm, and didn't return until 9:20pm. All the computers shut down, dropping my file download and cutting us off from the Internet (gasp). The television of course ceased to function, sending Kelly into a spiral of despair. She was literally wandering around the house declaiming "this is the worst day of my life!" That's what you get for being addicted to Cartoon Network, kiddo.

At the time, of course, we didn't know how long it would last. Initially, we were expecting maybe a half hour. When that time came and went, Jean called PG&E to find out what the estimate was. It turns out that power had been lost in West Linn, and they were shunting power from Tualatin. Who knows why? Maybe there was a hospital involved. Otherwise, why punish good little ant Tualatin who planned for the winter by burying her power lines, to reward lazy grasshopper West Linn, foolishly leaving his power lines above ground?

So anyway, we were left with an estimate of 8pm for reestablished service. By this time we'd fished out the candles, flashlights and portable radio, I was eating my cold dinner, and Kelly had settled down into a lachrymose murmur of despair. I resolved to finish my dinner.

My main concern during all this was that it was cold outside, and that although our house has gas heat, it uses an electric blower! Doh! So the house was going to get gradually colder the longer the outage persisted. Jean had already put on a large chenille robe. I opted to just remain in my day's clothing, with the option of putting on a jacket if needed. Kelly, in her usual sound judgement, had stripped down to her underpants.

After I finished my dinner and brushed my teeth, it occurred to me that I had a computer that would still work, though not connected to the Internet. I went downstairs, got my iBook, put in the battery, and brought it upstairs. Then I loaded four episodes of Angelic Layer off of a CD-R I had lying on the shelf, and began watching. As soon as the sound of the opening theme music began wafting out of the tinny speaker, Kelly came a running! Cartoons! Cartoons! After two episodes (which Kelly gave the big thumbs up to), it was time for Kelly to go to bed. No bath, sorry, the water would probably be too cool by now.

So I put both the women to bed, and called PG&E again, at Jean's bidding. Current estimate, 11:50pm! Ugghh! So I settled down in the living room to read a book by candlelight. I haven't done that in awhile. Note to myself: a regular hurricane lamp doesn't flicker nearly as much as a flame from a candle in the bottom of a glass bowl.

By this time, the house temperature was down to 67 degrees, though I was lying on the floor in my street clothes feeling quite comfortable. Suddenly, at 9:20 pm, the power surged back on. The television Jean had left on in the basement began chattering, the refrigerator hummed away, and all the other little noises of an elecric household assumed their rightful place in the ambient background. Kelly and Jean both popped out of bed, and it took awhile to get the clocks reset and everyone back to bed.

At this point, I'd insert the obligatory old saw about having a glimpse of our ancestors' lifestyle, but I did all that when I lived on Lake Gogebic in Michigan for several months as a teenager. It sucked then, and it sucks now. Kelly "This is the worst day of my life" Wakefield has no clue...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 AM

Is Hyperbole Killing Email?

Michael Fraase throws his tempest into the Spam Is Killing Email teapot. I'm starting to guess that this is really just a problem for 'famous' people. Since they have high visibility, they get a lot more junk email than I do. Since they didn't all get to their current prominently visible positions by being notably clever, they assume everybody else has the same problem. Following their reasoning trendline, they decide the only solution is to ... replace email!

Sorry jackasses. I get maybe six or seven spam messages a day at home, and possibly eight or ten at work. My email has become totally useless, because I have to spend, what, ten, fifteen seconds deleting the junk mail? And if the volume ever gets worse, I know how to use filters, fergodsakes! Jeez, some people.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

December 11, 2001

Typing of the Neophytes

Kelly's now graduated to typing out sentences as a way of practicing writing. She's of course just a hunt 'n' pecker, but she has pretty good output when you consider that she's also sounding out the words to figure out how to spell them. And just to prove it, here's a little sample:

"qwhghfvjjkjy;pyujrfjiygkyhtjyhggeyjhgyhhhggttyyyyytyyyytyytryyyykiilikpikrddgutghuufdsczvbcb

mnugjgftgyujfuffyrhfhrhfrrfhdyyddcfurffijgtjinnvgjkfnfvhbfhvfhfhfujtgijtuugghjkvjnbvjhbjbnvbhjgjlk

gjlgbjimggfgjijkgfjkfgujgfgiotgjitgtjigtijtggjituittgiutgpigpigpotpifpigpigpgipigpigpigpgipigpigpigpigpig

pigpigppigpigpigpigpigpiggpigpigpigpgipigpgipigpigpigpigpigpigpiigpigpigpigpgipigpigpigpigpigpigpigg

pigpigppppigpgigpigpigpigpigpignoknokhosthergosgoshogosgotyornosyornos mom

ses to pla nis but i can be nis to mie frens i like my frens my frens are my pals furevur

i dot noe my noe frenns tomuch and ilike my frens ulitul bit to much."

"i luve my mom to much but my mom sum timse my mom kutles me.

dad and me go shoping and we hav a grat time dad and we luve it we go to the toy stor we can get toys frum the toy stor i luve you,kkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. pppppppppppppppppppppppppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggppppp

pppppppppppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggggggggggggg.nnnnniiiiggggit.

fffffffiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... kellykllykelllykllykellykellykekkykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykellykelllykellykellykellykelly

kellyellykellykellykellykelltkellykellykelllykelly."

Okay, a little raw, but still touching to me. I'm very impressed with her progress.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:57 PM

December 09, 2001

Christmas Hijinx

I took Kelly shopping yesterday. First we went to Fred Meyer's to pick up my prescription (sinus medicine, helps me avoid sinus infections), then we went shopping for a present from Kelly to Jean. Kelly decided that doing earrings this year, as in so many others, would be predictable and boring. So instead we shopped for slippers. I won't describe them on the off chance that Jean sees this entry, but I think Kelly did a good job. The fact that Kelly's gift is slippers won't come as a surprise since she told Jean immediately that that would be her present. So the surprise is in which kind she's gonna get.

Next we moved on to Toys 'r' Us, where I planned to get some feedback from Kelly on which computer games she wanted for Christmas. I told her to pick out three that she liked, and I'd get one or two on a separate trip. But once she picked out her stack, she insisted that I could get them right then and there. "I won't look," she assured me. I decided to remove the temptation, and grabbed my sock hat out of my pocket, and tugged it down over her head so she couldn't see. I then grabbed two of the games and led her to the checkout.

It was especially amusing to me since the checkout guy's scanner had problems scanning our check. Kelly had to stand there with the sock hat over her head for four or five minutes while I tried to pay for the presents. Eventually things straightened out, and I hid the bag under my jacket, letting Kelly come up for air. All in all, she thought the whole thing was pretty fun!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:28 AM

November 30, 2001

Travel Sucks

Joy, joy. Another day, another day trip. I dropped Kelly off at school yesterday morning, then I ran back home to gather together my gear. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the airport. I parked in the parking garage, since Mentor reimburses travel expenses, and I figure they oughta pick up the higher rate since they're asking me to travel. I had my first intimation of how things had changed when I parked. They'd cordoned off a chunk of the garage nearest to the terminal, with dire 'tow-away' warnings all along the plastic mesh fence partitioning the area. This was nearly a quarter of the parking spaces!

Once inside I noticed that the airport proper was pretty empty. It's post-holiday, and my flight was after the morning shuttle-rush, so that's at least partially understandable. I met with Dave, my boss, and John, and we made our way through the security gate. I got a more thorough going over with the magnetic wand when my belt buckle made the scanners beep, but no strip searches .

I never saw any National Guard in PDX, but Dave claims to have seen one. There was a bicycle cop riding up and down the concourse, but since there were maybe a total of fifteen people in our immediate area, he had nothing much to do. Eventually we boarded our flight, which was less than a quarter full. I moved to a seat where I had empty seats on all sides, and spent the flight reading up on OpenSSH to learn about getting a secure X Windows connection with work from home.

We picked up our rental car in San Jose, stopped by the Mentor offices to pick up some other folks, then proceeded to meet with Company X (not going to mention what we were doing there, for NDA reasons). These guys had a really nice office, and a cool conference room with a view. There, is that vague enough for you?

After the meeting, one guy who had lived in San Jose tried to give us directions to Germania Haus, a German restaurant, before he went home. Of course we couldn't find it with both hands, so we drove around until we found a Thai restaurant, and ate there. The food was pretty good, and Dave picked up the tab. We stopped to eat since our return flight wasn't until 8:45pm. That's what you get when you try to book business trips at the last minute.

On the way back to the airport, we passed by the San Jose Coliseum (yes, it's called Logitech Ice, but c'mon), where there was a huge crowd, being directed by traffic cops. At first I though it was a WWF match, since the marquee was advertising that. But after a little while, it became clear from the dress of the attendants that this was a Sharks game. The Sharks are the San Jose hockey team, and they're quite popular. In case you're curious, here's a recap, wherein the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the San Jose Sharks.

We got to the terminal early, so we went for snackies, and I went to a gift store and bought Kelly a stocking stuffer for Christmas: an S. J. Sharkie plush keychain. He's carrying a surfboard, kawaii!

Mexicana Airlines was really busy last night, with at least two plane loads of people waiting in a long line at their ticket counter. I was trying to figure out why there'd be so many Latinos leaving at the same time, and I still can't figure it out.

We went through a somewhat more thorough security check to get to our gate, and now I actually saw two National Guardsmen. And four policemen! The gate was crowded this time. Our flight was delayed 'due to security issues in Portland', so I didn't actually get to leave until 9:20 pm. The flight was nearly full this time around, so I guess red-eye flights are busier than late-morning flights. Okay, it was only 9:20 pm, so it wasn't a red-eye. Jean says it was a 'pink-eye' flight. Aggh! Don't touch anything!

The woman sitting next to me told me that she flew down to San Jose that morning too. In her case, her flight was cancelled, and they put her on a flight to Oakland, where everyone on the flight was bussed to San Jose! So I guess I got off easy. The flight was uneventful, and I disembarked and walked to my car with no further incidents. Well, not until it came time to pay for the day's parking. It turns out that since the last time I went on a business trip for Mentor and now, they've doubled the price of one day's parking in the garage. It's now $32! Luckily, I had that much and only that much in my wallet. I had been debating buying Jean a T-Shirt at the San Jose gift shop, and decided to wait for something better. Now I'm glad I did.

I got home around midnight, and took another half hour to an hour to unwind and go to sleep. That's when I discovered that mild respiratory infections and air travel don't mix. I woke myself up coughing frequently, and as a result got very little sleep. I spent today taking it easy, working from home on my OpenSSH X connection. And I got that working! Cool!

Two 'ominous' notes. While walking through the terminal Dave was talking about his visit to Helsinki on business, and I mentioned that my Dad's side of the family if from Finland. He wanted to know if I had been to Finland and I admitted that except for Canada, I'd never left the United States. "Well," he said, "we'll have to do something about that." I seriously doubt he'll find a convincing business reason to do that, but it's unsettling anyway.

The other 'ominous' note was that he offered to meet these guys again in a few weeks on the East Coast! And he used the word 'we'! Help me! Help me!

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:34 PM

November 28, 2001

K - e - double l - y Spells Kelly

By the way, Kelly did her homework with me last night. It consisted of reading a moderately challenging book. I'm truly impressed with the progress she's making in reading. She hardly stumbled on any of the words, and she's really worked out her tactics for sounding out variants of a word until she nails what it really says. I'm very proud of her.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:06 AM

Roof Fixed

The roof contractors showed up yesterday around 4pm and worked their magic. It's been raining overnight, and this morning saw no increase in the size of stains on the foyer ceiling, so I have hopes they spotted all the leakage.

Today is heavy rain, sometimes approaching horizontal, so I guess their work will get the stress test. Cross your fingers!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 AM

Travel Again

Well, looks as if I get to see just what Portland International Airport (and San Jose too) look like after the events of September 11th. I'm going on a business trip tomorrow, from which I will return to Portland by 10:30pm. Yuck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:58 AM

November 26, 2001

Just an Experiment...

I've been attempting to replicate the structure of Terebi I here by creating subdirectories containing my reviews and essays (slowly, slowly). One thing which has occurred to me is that such subdirectories are 'invisible' to Greymatter, the software I use to run this weblog. This means that they are not included in searches the user runs from the search box. Big shortcoming, since I often want to search for something stashed in one of my articles.

I may try my hand at extending the search engine, but I don't want to break the code, and Perl is an infrequent programming language for me since I've started using Python for scripting tasks. To make a long story short, I'm going to use a feature of Greymatter called 'Extended Entry Text' in this post to see:

  1. How it looks on the home page.
  2. If the extended part is indexed for searching

This may take a while to totally test, since I'm most interested in behavior when archiving kicks in, i.e. after it rolls off the end of the front page. So expect to see a few of these 'extended entries' while I test it out...

Greymatter is a very nice CGI scripting suite for creating weblogs. If I were writing one myself, I'd probably do several things differently, tailoring the environment to my own peculiar needs. But considering how long it took Noah Grey to implement the current system, and considering that I don't actually wish to import all my entries from Greymatter into a new system, I'll pass on that task.

What I hope to achieve however, is the ability to make my anime reviews and other essays searchable in the same way as regular weblog posts are. This 'extended entry' is my first experiment. Following are several words I hope will be caught by the search script, at least after this article is archived:

  1. phrygean
  2. omphaloskepsis
  3. Patagonian

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:04 AM

November 25, 2001

Computer Media Adventures

I saw Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone with my friends last Saturday, and while there I saw a trailer for the live-action Scooby Doo movie. It's actually pretty clever, creatively using another Warner Bros. film property to 'kid the product'. I hunted the trailer down at the above link, and showed it to Kelly, whereupon she promptly set about viewing it six times. Now she has to wait 'til next summer to see the actual movie.

On another media note, she's hooked on Magical Nyan Nyan Taruto, as she watched five episodes in a row yesterday afternoon. I've only got nine, and there are only eleven translated. Twelve isn't even out yet. Poor little Kelly!

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:08 PM

November 21, 2001

On the Other Hand

Brighter news than leaking roofs: Kelly found a blank book in her closet, and without prompting began to fill it with 'diary' entries. She used to pretend write, filling pages with squiggly lines, but now she is sounding out words, and spelling real, if extremely simple, sentences. 'Yoew?' is 'Why?', the title of her first poem. But despite some of these spelling howlers, I can actually read some of her stuff, usually with the aid of context. It's pretty cool.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 AM

When It Rains

Seems we have leak. Given the location of ceiling stains, I'm guessing the flashing around the chimney is failing. We're now searching for contractors who can do the work expeditiously.

In other annoying news, I enjoyed using our Internet connection into the evening, but this morning it seems to be out of service. Any bets on whether it will be fixed before the long holiday weekend commences?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

November 15, 2001

Lost Weekend

For the hypothetical individual out there wondering what became of my pictures of our coast trip, I flaked. I really need to install Photoshop (version 4.2 came bundled with our scanner) on the iMac, and also the drivers for the USB CompactFlash card reader, so I can upload the pictures to the computer, then crop them. Oh, and then I need to install my FTP tool, Interarchy. All bought and paid for, chilluns.

One final tool I've thought of getting for just this purpose is Cameraid, by Juri Munkki. It has a lot of features that I'll never use, but it has one I would, in this case. Point it at a folder of photos, and it'll create a web page with thumbnail photos which link to the full-size originals. Cool, neh?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:02 PM

Sick Holiday

I spent what felt like most of the night coughing, so when I 'woke up' this morning I was fairly shady. I went to work because I thought I could and I had a few commitments. Seems like it was a good idea, since I interacted with several people I needed to see.

However, I'm feeling rather punked right now, so I've decided to take some of my vacation time and take the entire day off tomorrow. I'm not going to lie abed the whole time, just sleep in, then do some low-energy chores, maybe take in a movie, then a nap. I'm wishing that this will give me enough energy to go the NOVA meeting on Saturday.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:50 PM

November 13, 2001

Oh, Ocaml!

On the 10th, I checked my changes to the TeX files for Chapter 3 into remote CVS. Last night, my editing counterpart, Anders Selander, sent email with his suggestions, substantial and brilliant. I spent quite a while reading over his diffs carefully, adding my own comments and expanding. This morning I got his reply, converged on agreed changes, and shot off an email to him. I expect his changes will join mine shortly.

It's fun being a volunteer proofreader/technical editor!

P.S. - Ocaml is short for Objective Caml, which is a French derivation of ML, which is short for Meta-Language.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:54 AM

Get Back On That Horse

Pajama Sam is the man who brought Kelly to tears Sunday. Yesterday was a school holiday, so she stayed home with Jean. Punishment Weekend was over, so I expected to hear tales of ten-hour television marathons, but when I got home Kelly was playing Pajama Sam 3, and according to Jean, had been doing so most of the day.

She played on the new iMac, and when I tried to shut it down last night, it kept insisting that some application was holding resources such that it couldn't shut down. "Close the application and try again." But no application was open. Could Pajama Sam be responsible? Will he make me cry? I rebooted, then shut down, but time will tell...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 AM

November 12, 2001

Yeesh!

Note to self: Do not post to your weblog when you are sick! You get all santimonious and stuff. Yuck.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:49 PM

Proud To Be

After seeing so many guileless declarations of patriotism of late, combined with the coercive rhetoric of the flag wavers, I have to take a stand, however small. I am not 'Proud to be an American'. I'm instead proud to be a thinking American. If I do not lead, follow or get out of the way, it is my right as an American, still. I don't simply kowtow to our appointed leader, but think for myself. If the President implies drilling in ANWR is patriotic, I am free to snort in disgust.

If you have a problem with that, then you're not much of an American, are you?

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:33 PM

Weekly Update

When I'm under a pile of work, or feeling sick, or nursing a sick family, or just plain lazy (all too often), this weblog suffers. Considering that the last substantive post was two weeks ago, one might wonder what's up. Well, all of the above, really. So here's a quick recap of recent events.

Jean came down with a 48-hour influenza, and I had to take care of her and watch over Kelly when not working. The iMac is working out fine, I'm now at the stage of migrating software over when I discover I need it, about once every three or four days. I've finished my proofreading for the French Ocaml book, and am awaiting a second chapter assignment. I am now fighting something which may only be a vicious cold, but feels more virulent than that.

That's all the trivia dramatically compressed. Slowing down, I gotta note that this weekend was spent very quietly, as Kelly was having one of her more comprehensive punishments. She threw a wobbly at daycare on Friday which apparently lasted nearly an hour and inconvenienced a lot of folks. I tried to 'talk her down' over the phone, but she was inconsolable.

It seems she won a T-shirt from 'the reptile man', a guy who goes around the schools and daycares showing off snakes, lizards, turtles and such. But the teacher asked her not to wear it right away as it would make the other children feel bad. At this, Kelly launched into her fit, giving the teacher little room to back down.

So Jean and I had a talk with Kelly and decided her punishment. One hour of television a day for the whole weekend, and bed early every night. She got really bored, but we also told her it wouldn't be our job to entertain her during that time. I did take her down to Fry's to buy a new computer game, as she went through all her existing games, educational and otherwise, in her bid to fight off the boredom.

Playing the game turned out to be very enlightening, if a tad disappointing. She reached a point where she decided she wanted to go back to a 'save point', and she accidentally saved over the last save point, preventing her from going back. She completely fell apart! She was sobbing, and quickly escalated to jumping up and down, crying and more or less demanding that we magically restore her save point. We told her to calm down or go to her room.

Times like these remind me why I didn't want to be a parent (no, Kelly wasn't a 'love child', we chose to have her, after much discussion). But eventually she calmed down, and worked out a solution (play another game). Still, it made me question just how effective the punishment had been in making her introspect on her behavior. I did tell her that behavior like that was unacceptable. She understands that it's okay to have feelings, and even okay to cry, but not to try to bully others with her tears. But she still loses control of herself. I hope it's just a maturation issue.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:34 PM

November 09, 2001

Lovecraft Online

Grrr, Arghh!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:19 AM

November 05, 2001

Mac Daddy

Even temporarily losing the iBook annoyed the heck out of me, so I went digging into my fund bag and found enough money to buy another computer with a USB port (why, so we can print on our new, USB-only-connected printer, that's why!). I ended up buying an iMac, despite being a little peeved at Apple right now, understandably so, I might add. Reason for iMac, I have no expertise on Wintel boxes, and didn't have the time to become expert.

So now we have three Macs in the house: an 'old' Powermac 8500, the temporarily (crossed-fingers) out of service iBook, and an iMac. Jean tried installing one of her study programs on the iMac today, and did a double-take when it finished installing in an eyeblink (larger software packages may take longer, state and local taxes may apply, your mileage may vary). Truth is, even though this is only a single step above the low-end iMac, it's clock speed is over four times that of the Powermac that Jean has been using. So I expect her to be sitting at it quite a lot from now on.

Digital fansubs of anime also run smoother, as I found out when setting it up for this task. I watched episode one of Mahoromatic on full-screen mode and it was sharp and seamless. On my laptop, a file of this size would overwhelm the processor and bus, leading to frame drops and stutter. An even larger file, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, the new Cowboy Bebop movie, was totally smooth. I only watched the opening, but it's a hoot.

So anyway, I've been migrating tools and applications from the other two boxes (nursing the battery on the laptop until the replacement AC adapter arrives). Last night I booted into Mac OS X, the new os with the Unix underbody. I downloaded the free OS X developer kit from Apple, and proved that I can use remote CVS to download the TeX files for the book I'm proofreading. This will hopefully allow me to catch up from behind, as I'm not able to use remote cvs through the firewall at work, and using it on Agora is problematic as I have a 30 gig limit, and the source files for the book total more like 50 gigs. So w00t! I can do my final edits from home!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:01 AM

November 01, 2001

On the Positive Side

Kelly and I defeated the Sewer Evil King in Okage. He was a giant rat, and the last two times we tried we got defeated, forcing us to start over from our most recent save point. So, HURRAY!

Trick-or-treating was a hoot this year. Kelly decided that shouting 'Trick or Treat!' at every door was boring, so she started asking people if they had any children. Sort of an informal survey. by the end I could tell she was getting tired (aside from the complaints of sore feet) since she actually rejected offers of extra candy (bucket too heavy) and started asking if people had particular types of candy instead of what they were offering.

Of course, nothing tops her 3-year old Halloween, when her deviation from the script was to shout to people "I want candy!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:46 AM

Curse of Halloween

My laptop power supply died, sparking and smoking at the plug which attaches to the computer when I removed it last night! Now I have to get a new one. Ugh. Doing research on Apple's bulletin boards, it looks like they aren't taking responsibility for this one, even though tons of customers are reporting it. They may bow to pressure and do a recall eventually, but I need a power adapter now, not six months after the battery runs down. And of course I think I'm just outside the warranty period. I'll call 'em and try it, but I expect I'll be buying one myself...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:42 AM

October 31, 2001

Okage Gets Spendy

I brought back Okage to the Blockbuster's yesterday evening. I've had a while to deliberate on it, having played by myself and with Kelly before and after the coast trip, and I came down on the side of buying it. True, it has some annoyances, and doesn't always challenge you. But I bought it for two primary reasons:

Admittedly, Kelly could lose interest well before the game is ended, but for now, Okage is amply repaying its hefty price tag. Now if I can just resist going back to Fry's and buying Oni now that it's price has fallen 60%...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:30 PM

The Hole I'm In

A large part of the 'hole I'm in' as mentioned below is due to Jean coming down with some sort of stomach flu shortly after our return. I spent all day Monday at home with her (I was sorta planning to take the time off anyway, but this way I was available to her). She was really knocked out, unable to do much other than vomiting and lying in bed. I took care of Kelly, both transporting her to and from school and feeding her, working through her homework, entertaining her, bathing and dental hygiene, the works.

Tuesday I took Kelly in, and went to work. Jean summoned enough energy to pick Kelly up from school, but soon discovered that she still had incredibly low reserves. So I had the entire evening routine to myself once again. I've been showing some symptoms of illness as well, so I'm taking extra care not to overwork or overplay myself, especially since this is a NOVA weekend coming up, and I expect we'll be seeing Jet Li's The One afterwards.

I feel guilty that I've only worked about one-third of the way through my volunteer proofreading job, but I think I'll get traction again at the start of next week. I have until November 9th to report back. But for tonight...Halloween! Kelly's going out as a bunny this year, though with her little bowtie and flouncy skirt, I'm not sure if that's actually supposed to be a Playboy bunny. Don't tell Jean I said that! .

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:50 AM

Coast Report

Well, we went on a trip to the coast! I took Friday off so I could pack, shop for goodies, and get in a round of back-strengthening exercise before the trip. We left on Saturday morning and headed to Tillamook. Our first stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was billed as having a 'self-guided' tour, which apparently means just walking around the building, looking at 'cheesy' dioramas and sampling cheese. They had squeaky cheese! I love that stuff!

Anyway, there was a second-floor overlook of the factory itself, and that was the cool part. I tried to take a few pictures with the digital camera, so we'll see how they came out when I dig out of the hole I'm in. As we left, we passed by the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which has wine and cheese tasting, but Jean said 'save it for next trip.' We're also saving the Latimer Quilt and Textile Museum, located nearby. I think it will be fun, despite the fact that most of these coastal museums are the historical equivalent of petting zoos.

Next on the agenda was the Tillamook Air Museum. Many more photos taken which I'll try to post. Kelly went absolutely gonzo over the trainers, making Jean sit beside her in a helicopter trainer and a jet trainer (even though they didn't work). We had lunch there, which was pretty good. My only complaint is that the website I found the museum on promotes it as the "Blimp Hangar Museum", which I think I can be forgiven for thinking promised some blimps. In fact, the museum is in a blimp hangar, and while there are dozens of planes, there is only one, contemporary, blimp; a tiny one at that. Oh, well, more petting zoo advertising...

We drove South to Lincoln City, and checked into our hotel. Sorry, nothing picturesque, like McCoy's Hideaway, where we stayed maybe seven years ago. This time it was a Best Western, chosen for the fact that it had an indoor pool, a Kelly requirement. No fancy dining either. We walked down the street to a Subway's and got subs for dinner.

The following morning I insisted on walking to the beach, about a fifteen minute walk. Boy is Kelly a sissy! I had to carry her on my shoulders part of the way, which turned out to be a mistake. My strength training exercises apparently don't prepare me for lifting a flailing package of 55 pounds over my head and resting it on my shoulders while walking. I pulled my shoulder, nothing serious, but I've had to lay of strength training for the week. When we got to the beach, Kelly had to stop about every five feet to take off her shoes and empty out the sand. As it was morning I didn't suggest that she simply take her shoes off. Next time, I'll make sure we have a pair of Aquasocks or such-like.

After a breakfast at Subway's at Kelly's insistence, we drove down the coast to Newport for our next-to-last touristy stop, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I've never been there before, and it was great. Kelly liked it as well. In addition to looking at all the cool animals, we actually got to touch starfish and sea cucumbers. That was truly neat. Kelly was absolutely cackling with joy watching the seals and sea lions swimming in their habitat. I'm sorry to say that the sea otter display was closed. We ate lunch there, then headed back up the coast to go home.

But first, we stopped by the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This is a neat little lighthouse which looks more like a schoolhouse (Little House on the Prairie style). It was apparently closed only three years after commissioning, as there was a much better lighthouse just up the coast (which we're saving for our next coast trip).

After the lighthouse we made our way home, unpacking all the loot which Kelly collected on the way, then setttling in and decompressing. One of the more interesting facts about our trip is that it was the first one in six years. The last time we went Jean was six months pregnant with Kelly. So we told Kelly that she'd been to the coast before, but hadn't seen too much of it .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 AM

October 26, 2001

Okage On The Cheap

Well, the images kept popping up in my head, so I made up my mind to get Okage and play it. But first I did the consumer due-diligence thing and looked up a number of reviews. They mostly all agreed: the artwork is charming, the dialogs humorous, but the game is standard to sub-standard RPG.

Given this, I really didn't want to take a chance on the game being a bomb, and blowing a big chunk of change on it. So instead I went to the local Blockbuster Video and checked their stock of video games. Sure enough, they had it and I rented it: $5 for five days. I played some last night and I'll play some more today (I'm taking FTO to pack for our trip to the coast). Then I expect I'll play a bit more on Monday before taking it back on Tuesday. By that time I'll know if I want to rent it again, buy it, or drop it.

The report so far is that it is amusing but unremarkable. Definitely not up there with Final Fantasy, but so far seemingly worth a $5 rental fee.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:10 AM

October 22, 2001

Simile of the Day

"When Bush ... furrows his brow like a serious Muppet"

If you believe in unquestioning support of the government in times of strife, don't read this article. But it's so damn full of humorous playful colorful turns of phrase that I just had to share.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 AM

Thanks Brenda

I guess someone is reading this weblog. Mere hours after I posted my dilemma reaching my Dad, he called back, saying that Brenda had read my post and called him. Turns out he's in Michigan for the rest of the week, playing chicken with the next snowstorm before fleeing to sunny Florida.

Anyway, thanks Brenda.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 AM

October 21, 2001

NOVA Fun

Last night was a NOVA evening. Amidst all the other viewing and socializing activities, Alan set up his laptop and we showed my copy of Shaolin Soccer, which I've been saving for a NOVA meeting since I suspected it would be a lot of fun. I was not disappointed. It was howlingly funny, perhaps even more fun than God of Cookery, the other Stephen Chow movie I've seen so far. I've already got a queue of two people in line to borrow it, and I wish I hadn't agreed to, as I'm now pining to watch it again myself. Boo hoo, poor me.

After the meeting we went to the Tigard Cinema to watch Iron Monkey, another movie I own on DVD, but which I was pleased to see on the big screen. I was even more pleased to see that it was subtitled, with the original Cantonese voice track. Whatever was Miramax thinking? Anyway, it looked great on the big screen, and everybody who went seemed to enjoy it. Next NOVA meeting is November 3rd, just in time for Jet Li in The One, which looks to be a hoot, a flying people movie in a Matrix-grade special effects mode.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:22 PM

Another Self-assigned Project

Every week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I stay after work to study. I do this to challenge myself and keep my edge, now that I'm several years beyond getting my Master's degree. Sometimes I study functional programming, reading texts, technical papers and the like, and writing small programs. One of the functional programming languages I study is Ocaml, or Objective Caml. It is a derivative of ML, developed in France.

For several years now, below the radar, there has been an effort to translate one of the more popular books on Ocaml written in French into the English language. It is called Développement d'applications avec Objective Caml. Well, apparently the translation has proceeded far enough to expose it a little, as a call went out recently on the functional programming Usenet groups for proofreaders. And I volunteered! So now I'll be trying to spend some of my self-study time working through my assigned proofreading tasks. I'm pretty excited about it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:04 PM

PS2 Games

Sony just sent me a CD-ROM full of demos of new games for the PS2. I was fiddling with them, and Kelly wanted to watch me play. She likes Klonoa 2, mostly for the cute character who runs the gauntlet of this platform game. I admit it is cute, but I'm not so much into platform games any more, I suppose since my reflexes suck so bad. I think Jean would enjoy it, but I'm not really into dropping a big chunk of change on a game that I'm not gonna play, and which Jean will only play over school breaks.

More to my liking is Ico, which is a role-playing/puzzle-solving game. The demo is woefully limited though, giving only a tiny hint of what might be it's potential. I did discover that you can make Ico run in frantic circles rather like Curly in the Three Stooges, much to the delight of Kelly. My friend Alan Matzka assures me that this game is for me, so I'll add it to the queue of potential purchases over the next few months.

I also enjoyed Portal Runner. I was amused to read that this is a spin-off of another game that I've seen on the shelf and had no interest in. The demo is once again terribly limited and brief, but I thought it was fun. No, I haven't been able to crack the demo level supplied. Are you surprised?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm very tempted by Okage: Shadow King. The artwork looks very much like Tim Burton's puppet designs, such as are found in The Nightmare Before Christmas, which I find very appealing. Reviews suggest it is a simple game, with a weird sense of humor, but not too complex. Given my limited gaming skills, that actually sounds nice.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:55 PM

Shopping.py

I set myself a little task of writing a grocery shopping program using only Python and the W toolkit, a Macintosh-specific graphical toolkit designed by Just Van Rossum, the brother of Guido Van Rossum, who created Python. W sucks as a widget toolkit, in that one must specify exact coordinates for all widgets. There's no packing manager concept in W.

Why did I do this? Two reasons. First, I wanted to brush up my Python skills for upcoming work at work. Second, I actually thought a program for accumulating a list of items over the week and printing them neatly before shopping would be neat. And it is! God, I'm such a geek! Please help me?

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:36 PM

Cry In The Darkness

Well, I tried. I finally emptied my queue of all the chores, self-assigned tasks and exhaustion, so I had time to call my Dad back today. He is, as far as I know, in Canada right now. I tried calling the number I have for him there, and got a message from 'Bell Canada' that the number has been temporarily disconnected at the request of the customer.

So this is really a shout to my sister to ask her to let Dad know that I seem to have an old, stale number for Canada.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:31 PM

October 18, 2001

Chicken Dance Clarification

I asked Kelly last night to do her version of the Chicken Dance so I could see what the Oktoberfest band was doing 'wrong'. It was pretty funny seing her do it. Looks as if the moves are the same and the music is the same. The only change is that you replace the lyrics with chicken sounds:

Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! Buck buck bucka buck-buck-buck! BUCK-BUCK buck-buck buck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:31 AM

October 17, 2001

Posted Because It's Just Too Damn Cute

Mamma Liberty

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:21 PM

Quickie Update

I realized I hadn't posted an update for several days, directly on the heels of giving blood. So no, I didn't pass out and only just awake. I've been tres busy lately, that's all. Brief update:

Thursday afternoon took Kelly to the Mentor version of Oktoberfest. I've been to more of these than I can count, but Kelly keeps it new. She ran up to the 'dance floor' (a cleared space in the cafeteria in front of the polka band) and did the Chicken Dance. According to her, the band "did it wrong."

Friday evening we took her over to have dinner with her friend Trinity, whose birthday it was.

Saturday was swim class, in addition to all the usual chores.

Sunday I took her to free swim, as well as doing all my chores and entertaining her while Jean studied for two tests and a quiz this week.

And of course there's been work. So when you add in the coverage of Kelly while Jean has been studying, I haven't really had time to post. Posting now is just to reassure everyone in the family I'm not dead.

Jean did well on her tests, Kelly seems to be coming down with a cold, and if I can ever get any time to myself, I'm going to try out the playable demos for the PS2 that got sent in the mail. The ones which seemed interesting after a brief glimpse: Klonoa, Ico, Portal Runner. Not playable but seemingly interesting from the video demo: Okage, the Shadow King.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:56 AM

October 11, 2001

Overcoming Phobias

I gave blood today. For the first time in my life. I was spurred by the September 11 crimes to try to contribute something meaningful, and I knew my workplace would be holding a blood drive, so I committed to do it.

I can't tell you how much I hate needles. The only thing which causes me more anxiety is agressive stinging insects such as wasps. I walked over to the Commons to sign up, and I felt like I was marching to my own doom. When I started reading the info form, the volunteer asked me what my name was. I told him, and he said I wasn't on 'the list'.

"There's a list?" I thought. Next to me was a coworker, Brent, reading the same pamphlet.

The volunteer said, "we're all full for the day, sorry."

"Oh, well," I said, breathing a sigh of relief.

Then Brent pipes up with "it asks here if I've ever had malaria. I don't know, but I think I might have." How do you not know if you've had malaria before?

Moments later, Brent was walking out the door, and the volunteer was saying "looks like we have an opening." My heartrate started to go up again. Man did I feel queasy. I really felt like I was coming down with the flu right there. But I started going through the gauntlet, and maybe thirty minutes later I was walking back to my office, with a rather conspicuous blue elastic bandage wrapped around my elbow.

So I got on that horse, right? I conquered my irrational fear and now everything's fine? No way! I've got on the order of eight weeks while my body rebuilds red blood cells to think about whether I want to put myself through this again. And right now, I just don't know if I want to.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:43 PM

October 10, 2001

Michael Moore On Current Events

"Dick Cheney Has Been Moved Into Hiding Again. This can only help. The farther this mastermind can be kept from young Bush, the better. He's like that creepy friend of your dad's who has taken a bit too much of a shine to you. Wait -- he *is* that creepy friend of his dad's!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:51 AM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2001

Hello, Kitty

I took Kelly to Ibach Park on Sunday, where she had the park to herself for the first ten minutes, as it had rained recently. Then a father and two daughters showed up, and Kelly went into overdrive, enlisting the younger daughter in her games. As usual, Kelly is surprisingly extroverted considering her parents.

Later we went to Kinokuniya to pick up a new volume of Card Captor Sakura for bedtime stories, and incidentally had the chance to cruise the First Annual Festival Japan. I wanted to spend some time wandering the booths, but with Kelly in tow, it was pretty hard. She only wanted to play the kids' games. I got her to slow down long enough to look at the koi display, but had to skip most of what interested me.

The highlight of the trip for Kelly though, was the presence of a person walking around in a Hello, Kitty costume. She was gushing and cooing over this person, and ran up and gave Kitty a huge, lingering hug. Ah, the simple pleasures of life!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

Immunized

One part of the American immune system is now clearly on full alert. A man attempting to enter an American Airlines cockpit was overpowered by passengers, and successully conveyed to authorities. It seems he was mentally disturbed and thought terrorists were steering the plane toward the Sears Tower.

Add this to the flight recorder evidence for passenger intervention on United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11th, and it's clear that one avenue of terrorism, and hijacking in general, is closed forever.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:16 AM

October 07, 2001

A Year of Weblogging

Not one for making a big deal of arbitrary anniversaries, I totally snoozed through this one. On October 4th, 2000, I first started posting to Terebi I. I've since changed locations, domains and software, but at one year, I still have a little steam left.

Keep On Truckin'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 AM

October 04, 2001

More On Islam (Economics, this time)

"There are two strains of commentary about the Islamic world emerging in the current tensions. One, which is despicable, suggests that the "west" (as if that is a monolithic concept) is innately superior to other societies. The second, which is honest, explores why many of the states in the Islamic world are failing in economic and social terms."

Two new links on Islamic countries for my later informed reading, picked up from Davos Newbies:

The Economic Failure of Islam

Muslim societies need to deal with their own failure

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:04 PM

Not That I'm Counting...

...but the requirements for my current work project have changed again, for the fifth time!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:12 PM

October 03, 2001

Anchors Aweigh!

Or, "Casting Off Stitches for the Terminally Clumsy." Yeah, that's right, I finished off the knitting project last night. Kelly sat close at my right elbow, making it even more cumbersome to finish off, but I wanted to let her participate as much as she desired. She did one stitch, leaving it to me to cast it off.

And as I predicted, after playing with the resulting 'blanky' for ten minutes, it was lying in a corner like so much trash. I told her that if she desired to do more knitting in the future I'd be happy to help, but I didn't encourage her. I did emphasize that if she wanted to crochet, that was something she'd be doing with her mom, since Daddy's fingers are way too big for that!

So I'm putting away the needles, and hoping this is the last of that for awhile. I have to admit thought, that I got a sort of perverse pleasure from taking 'my' knitting along to public places and pulling it out to work on. I did that at the YMCA pool during Kelly's swim class, and while I doubt anyone gave it a second thought, it was fun to be the big flabby guy with a ball of yarn in his lap.

After we finished knitting, I fixed my dinner and Kelly proceeded to tie irrevocable knots into the remaining yarn. I reminded her that I had some lengths of cord in a drawer for practicing tying knots, and she jumped on that immediately. I showed her the square knot, the granny knot, the half-hitch and slip knot, and in no time she was spinning lassoes over her head in true rootin' tootin' spirit. I'm guessing that she's not going to be interested in detailed knot learning for some time yet.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:02 AM

Bad Metaphor of the Day

NPR sports commentator Frank Deford is often thoughtful, given to colorful metaphor, and notable for his thoughts on the social impact and philosophy of sports; enough so that I can often overcome my total disinterest in sports to give him a listen as I drive to work in the morning.

This morning, however, he pulled a metaphor while waxing eloquent about the Seattle Mariners which left me scratching my head for a minute or two. Referring to the potential loss of audience that the Mariners suffer from by being on the Left Coast, he labelled Seattle:

"The return-address corner of the Republic."

Huh? Okay, I got it, but it was so 'left-field' that it took me a minute. Try again, Frank.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:54 AM

October 02, 2001

We Were Gonna Do It Anyway!

Before Attacks, U.S. Was Ready to Say It Backed Palestinian State. Given the behavior I've seen from Colin Powell in recent months, I'd certainly believe he was for brokering such a peace plan, but George W.? Nah.

By the way, Powell was the general I most respected after Desert Storm. All that he has tried to do as Secretary of State, and not just since September 11th, have only increased that respect.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 AM

October 01, 2001

Categories For Dummies

A while ago I bought Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists, choosing it over Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories on the basis of a discussion on the comp.lang.functional Usenet news group. According to Mike Kent, "coverage is idiosyncratic" in Conceptual Mathematics, while Basic Category Theory covers "enough (and the right) topics so that you can grok the category theory that underlies various areas/approaches in CS."

Well, after some careful reading, I came to the conclusion that Basic Category Theory was too terse, and assumed too much. So I bought Conceptual Mathematics too, knowing full well that it "introduces topoi, doesn't even define adjoints, and mentions functors only in the fleetest passing." I figure I'll try to grok what Lawvere has to say, then fill out the missing pieces from Pierce. The working approach here is to use the incomplete but verbose book to get grounded in the language and background, then use the terse but complete book to fill in the gaps. Wish me luck.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:40 AM

Muffler At The End Of The Tunnel

My little yarn ball is getting smaller and smaller. I watched a Buffy re-run and an episode of Stargate SG-1 while knitting last night (after putting everybody to bed). Strangely, I've never had wrist pain in my left wrist from typing, but I'm getting a little from knitting.

I estimated roughly how much yarn goes into a single row of this 'starter' project. Since Kelly really crammed the stitches on, it probably takes more than the average project. It seems to need around 12 needle-lengths, which doesn't seem right, since these are ten inch needles. That'd be ten feet. Just saying it makes me think I did something wrong in my estimates. Anyway, with that estimate, I think I've got between five and ten more rows to go before I need to 'cast off stitches' and tie that thing off. Frankly, I can't wait. If Kelly wants to knit again, she's gonna have to do it all herself. But for right now she's clearly lost interest.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 AM

New Convert

Or she's just humoring me. We went to Mugi last night! Jean had the softshell crab roll and said it was wonderful. Kelly went totally off the deep end over the ... sticky rice! She ate a few other things, but she did in nearly a bowl of sticky rice, and asked Jean if she knew how to make more at home. I told her I did, and knew of a recipe for it on StickyRice.com. So now I get to learn how to make it right.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 AM

Best Buffy Rerun Line

The first couple of seasons of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer take place at Sunnydale High School and surroundings. The conceit is that the area is infested with vampires, Buffy and her friends fight them, and nobody else seems to notice...

High school jock: "This year, football is gonna be awesome! If we can just maintain focus, be disciplined ... and not have quite so many mysterious deaths ... Sunnydale is gonna rule!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:35 AM

September 30, 2001

Crab Trek

I waxed so long and eloquent on the topic of Mugi that Jean decided she wanted to try it for herself (it was one of her teachers who made the recommendation originally). So we hauled ourselves there yesterday, only to find that they don't do lunch. We ended up going to a salad buffet restaurant called Sweet Tomatoes.

At the restaurant we got to talking about various adages and idioms, to see which ones Kelly knew, and if she could figure out the others. "A stitch in time saves nine", "little pitchers have big ears" and of course, "the walls have ears." Curiously, that last one showed up on a documentary on television the same evening.

Anyway, I'm not giving up. We're shooting for Mugi for dinner tonight.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:17 PM

Sleep Deprivation

Jean was waking me all through the night (I vaguely recall out of the haze):

"Phin."

"Urm?"

"You're snoring."

Later...

"Phin."

"Oog?"

"You're snoring again."

Ad nauseum. If I wanted a weather report (slightly snorey with a chance of drool) I'd have slept in front of the television.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:08 PM

Visit To An Old Friend

We finally have booked some time to go to the coast, a mere six and a half years after our last visit. Jean was in her final few months of pregnancy the last time we went. The plan is to make it a weekend only trip, driving out on Saturday the 27th of October to Tilllamook, to visit the creamery. Then we'll hit the beach, then drive down to Lincoln City to check into our hotel for the evening. A dinner out is all we've planned then. Sunday morning we're going to drive down to Newport and visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Only four weeks to go! W00t!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:03 PM

September 29, 2001

New Banner

Today's copyright infringement comes from National Geographic Magazine. It is the left half of a larger image. If you wanna see the whole thing, buy the October issue .

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:28 PM

Knitting Emasculates My Dreams?

Jean woke me up this morning, for which I should be thankful. Otherwise, I wouldn't have remembered the dream I was having.

In my dream, I was talking to a young woman working in a bookstore. She told me that she hadn't been able to update her weblog due to problems with her ISP. And they, it seemed, couldn't help her with her problems in the immediate future because they were all working second jobs at K-Mart, where they were currently wrapped up in the annual cleaning of the hems of dresses.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:02 PM

September 27, 2001

Strengthening 'International Literacy'

On rc3.org, Rafe Colburn has posted links and suggestions on sources of information and news regarding the world outside our doorstep. I'm linking it here for my own reference.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:49 AM

September 26, 2001

School Daze

Trite, but true. I had the task of attending the Bridgeport Parent-Teacher event last night. Ugh. Did I learn anything? Maybe, but things could have been streamlined down to a half hour, rather than the hour and a quarter that they actually took. I heard lots of stuff I didn't care about but which was clearly important to the Principal.

Second half of the event was 'meeting' your child's teacher. This consisted of sitting in tiny chairs while she droned on about her teaching philosophy and what she expects and doesn't from your child. I had to struggle to stay awake. She remarked time and again how lenient she was about spelling, exploring sentence structure, guessing words while reading, etc. It's all part of the growth stage. But then she springs that she is a 'stickler for handwriting'. Yuck! My opinion is that handwriting is irrelevant. So the one thing she thinks is important I find a waste of time. Teach then keyboarding, dummy! Sorry. I'll sit down now.

I have no penmanship, and it's never made a difference in my life. But touch typing, even done slowly and poorly, really helps me in my work. So I'm prejudiced. Especially since I went through the whole 'penmanship is important' crap when I was growing up as well. How can I be a good citizen if I can't write a letter with a pleasing flourish? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM

September 24, 2001

Sushi Heaven

As I mentioned, Saturday was a NOVA meeting. Tom was off socializing with Sakura Con folks, so he missed out on the field trip to one of our favorite restaurants, Mugi. The review I just linked to mentions one of their heavenly specialties, Softshell Crab Roll. If you are ever in the area, go to Mugi for this alone. They always take awhile to serve, but it is worth the wait.

Also mentioned in the review is I Love Sushi, which I've been to a few times but not recently. It's also really good, and the dessert, Green Tea Ice Cream, is too cool to be missed.

In the past few years, I've gained a bit of weight. Perhaps now you can see why .

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:56 AM

September 21, 2001

Rain Nor Sleet

It's been just two days since I ordered my DVDs, and they're here! Turns out Poker Industries sent them Priority Mail. I guess they're trying to reassure their customer base, since they are an East Coast company (New Joyzey!). Anyway, I'm happy and will probably watch one of them on Sunday.

I'd watch one tonight but I have to take Kelly to swim class tomorrow morning. She's a Minnow! And I don't think I'll have time later tomorrow due to grocery and such, and Saturday evening is a NOVA night. So Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:13 PM

September 20, 2001

QOTD

From Noir, episode 2:

"Your work always lacks a certain elegance."

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 PM

New Headphones

I've had two pairs of headphones for the longest time, one pair recently lost (how do you lose headphones? Sunglasses, I understand, but headphones? Okay, they were those tiny kind, but still...), the other developing a short in one earpiece. Very annoying. So yesterday I went to Fry's after work and picked up a new pair to use with my laptop.

They're Philips SBC HS500 lightweight headphones, where the earpiece passes behind the head. The sound is so much better than the old ones. I swear they boost the bass somehow, but that's okay. I'm listening to some of my CDs which I ripped to my laptop for convenient listening while working on stuff, such as Macintosh Python programming, which I was doing until I got overwhelmed with listening to cool stuff on my laptop .

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 PM

The Story of Ricky

Just in case you think all I do is knit, I also watch bad movies. As the Fall television season approaches most of the Summer replacements are drifting into re-runs, so I've less to watch unless I yet again lower the bar. Instead, I've started watching some of the HK movies in my backlog pile. I also have a bunch of anime in my backlog pile, but the main one I want to watch, Noir, has such small subtitles that it is difficult to watch unless I'm on the floor right in front of the television. This of course makes it difficult to knit .

So yesterday evening I fired up the PS2 and put in Ricky O. I bought this on the strength of a multitude of reviews rating it the most awful, cheesy, stupid martial arts movie ever made (and the fact that it has a lengthy cameo by Yukari Oshima as a vicious prison guard). Well, the reality exceeded all my expectations. This is a horrible movie, and in the right company, I could easily be hospitalized from laughing too much.

My advice, skip everything but the Yukari Oshima scenes, and the penultimate scene involving the battle between Ricky and the warden. He transforms into a cartoonish overmuscled, pointy teethed Kung-Fu Demon. Sorta like the Incredible Hulk, only not green, and balding. Nothing else in the movie can top that. There, I'm speechless...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:59 AM

Knitting and Knotting

Last night was a self-directed study night (self-study for short), so I got home maybe a half-hour before Kelly's bedtime. Since I wasn't available for knitting after dinner, she elected to knit instead of having me read her a story.

She's got all the gross motor skills of a six-year old. She holds the needles in mid-air, rather than resting them on her legs or otherwise stabilizing them, while she laboriously stabs one needle through a loop of yarn on the other. Taking up the free strand of yarn, she wraps it somewhat more delicately than her earlier stab. But then she stretches the loop with her fingers and pulls through the new strand, removing the needle from the original loop. Finally, she grabs the loop on the left needle and drags it off the needle. "Done! Your turn," she says. I then do two stitches while she watches closely to observe my technique, and encourages me with warm words: "You're doing good, Daddy!"

I observe the typically coarse motor skills she uses when knitting her stitch to contrast it with the clear and obvious knowledge of the stitch sequence itself. She struggles to complete the loop, but has no trouble understanding what to do to add another stitch. She grasps the topology of the single thread of yarn looping back and into itself intuitively.

When I was her age (perhaps a bit older), I had two books I wish I still had. I don't even recall their titles. One was a book of knots, with beautiful sequential illustrations of the construction of a plethora of knots. The other was an exhaustive exploration of cat's cradles and other string figures. I think Kelly is ready for the knots book right now, though the more daunting cat's cradles would certainly interest her more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:26 AM

September 19, 2001

Islam Week On Lake Effect

Dan Hartung is using his website, Lake Effect, as a platform for education on Islam, to help people distinguish between extremist fundamentalists in the religion, and the majority of peace-loving Muslims.

Since he doesn't have direct links by day, and I'm posting this to let me quickly get back to the relevant links, here are the article links from the first three days:

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:36 PM

Knitting Language

Kelly and I had a successful first experience in the world of knitting. I used a tutorial I found on the Internet, and with a few stumbles, we got off and running.

The first step in knitting is getting yarn loaded onto the 'left' needle. This is called 'casting on stitches'. I showed Kelly how, and she was anxious to try for herself. With a little practice, she was able to do it without help. I had to remind her frequently not to tighten the stitches, so the other needle could be inserted. It helped that I was able to tell her that I made the same mistakes (over and over) when I was her age, learning from my mother. She wasn't so self-conscious knowing that I'd been there, and wasn't just being critical. We actually worked out a system where she'd start casting a stitch, and I'd say 'stop' when it was as tight as it should be.

Once she had the needle full of stitches, she thought she was done! She said, "okay, let's make a rabbit!" I had to explain to her that this was just the first step. Actually knitting took me a couple of tries, and I had to call Jean in to have her try it too. Turns out she wasn't sure herself, so I read the tutorial carefully, and finally figured it out. Kelly was a little more daunted by this step, since it takes considerably more dexterity and attention to get it right. But with my help holding the needles (they're 10", a little to big for her to handle on her own), she was able to do knit stitches. We were taking turns doing stitches until it was time for her bath. She wants to do more tonight.

For now we're sticking with the basic stitch called the 'garter stitch', and I'll worry about the possibility of introducing the 'purl stitch' if it becomes clear that this is more than a passing fad for Kelly. I suspect she'll lose interest when she discovers that she can't 'knit a bunny' in a day.

I did my strength training after I put her to bed, then took a shower, then went downstairs and knit three more rows with the television running, so she'd get a sense of progress, however false. How's that for devotion?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:43 AM

Just Ordered

I just placed an order at Poker Industries for Shaolin Soccer, starring Stephen Chow, and Attack the Gas Station, a Korean action/comedy. The latter is only my second foray into the realm of region-controlled DVDs. Now that I've got my DVD Region X, I'm looking forward to many more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM

Not Bin Laden?

Jane's Security, a branch of the sprawling military news and analysis company, reports that Iraeli military intelligence suspects Iraq was responsible for 9-11.

"We?ve only got scraps of information, not the full picture," admits one intelligence source, "but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected."

Note that one of the key individuals mentioned is a protege of Bin Laden and suspected to be his successor when he dies.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:18 AM

September 18, 2001

More Crafts Ahoy

As I mentioned earlier, I've been doing more craft-oriented tasks with Kelly of late (pot-holder looms and sewing sock bunnies). So imagine my joy to discover that she's now interested in taking up knitting (probably for all of two days), and she wants me to do it with her.

Jean bought the knitting needles, and I went to several sites on the Internet to refresh my memories on the basic technique. It's much as I remember it from when my mother taught me as a child. It remains to be seen if I have sufficient dexterity to actually carry it off, though. I think we'll be giving it a try tonight, so perhaps there'll be something to report by tomorrow.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 AM

Flag Codes

I have no objection to people flying the American flag to show their patriotism or support for other Americans now or at any other time. However, flag codes are just weird. If you like lots of fiddly little rules with no apparent advantage (flag code folding versus common-sense folding), you'll love the flag code!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

September 17, 2001

QOTD/TOTD (Frivolous translation of the day)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who has custard with custard creams?

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:38 PM

Pages Screwed Up

This is a test. The port of the site seems to have confused the weblog program, and it's sticking today's posts before previous ones...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:08 AM

More Flux

I notice that a couple of postings have disappeared over the weekend. Alan was swapping DNS records as he moved from his old location to the new downtown one, but careful as I was, a couple of posts have been lost in the transition. Neither had material I felt the need to archive, and I posted very little in the wake of the WTC disaster, so I'm just gonna leave things be.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:44 AM

Weekend Report

Sunday was my manly parenting day, as I helped Kelly weave a pot holder on her loom, and later, helped her make a stuffed bunny out of old socks (I sewed on the ears). It can only be called a stuffed bunny in the most charitable terms. Or perhaps it is the archetype of a stuffed bunny. Whatever.

Jean meanwhile bought a 'talking' Halloween candy bowl so she could set it outside our door this year and come with Kelly and I on our Halloween travels about the neighborhood. It has a hand which sticks out of the bottom of the bowl, which can be surrounded by candy. When you take some candy, the hand tips down to touch you, and a voice cackles out some Halloween-appropriate slogan. Kelly was just giggly as all get-out to see it in action.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:40 AM

September 12, 2001

Smart Questions

Talking with co-workers about a certain person who bothers me with their pointless divergences reminded me of this article:

"The first thing to understand is that hackers actually like hard problems and good, thought-provoking questions about them. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here. [...]

"What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or do their own homework before asking questions. People like that are time sinks -- they take without giving back, they waste time we could have spent on another question more interesting and another person more worthy of an answer. We call people like this 'losers'."

Eric Raymond

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 AM

September 11, 2001

What To Say?

I was going to write a brief entry today to let my sister Brenda know I had heard about her husband Ted's heart attack, and to wish them well (to hear my Dad tell it, he is walking around, just fine). So Brenda, consider that done.

All the personal news and speculations I normally put here sort of pales in comparison to today's news. This will be in the history books, but for now, it's shocking and very human in scope. Now that the World Trade Center is gone, now that the Pentagon is fractured, I think the implications will take a long time to sink in. Could we be heading for martial law? Probably not that harsh, but a less free and carefree environment than before.

For now, my sympathies to those who have loved ones at these sites, waiting to hear who made it out.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 AM

September 07, 2001

Stickin' It To The Man!

Well, I created another money sink. James Tilton (or was it Alan Matzka?) sent me a pointer to a product called DVD Region X, which converts your Playstation 2 into an all-region DVD player. My initial research led me to believe that it only worked with British PS2's, but I did some more digging, and only one site made that claim. So I decided to take the chance (cheap at $40), and ordered one.

I own a lot of Hong Kong DVDs, but they are Region 0, i.e., they play on any DVD deck. I only own one DVD from any other region besides the US. That DVD is Wild Zero, which I bought for it's gonzo indie bizarreness. I had a friend with a multi-region player dub a tape from it so I could watch it. But I used it to test DVD Region X and it works! Wahoo!

The big media conglomerates invented region coding to control distribution of their movies, preventing folks in Europe from buying a movie on DVD from America, before it made it's European theatrical release, for instance. But come on, they're never going to release Wild Zero in the US, so I have no qualms overriding their stupid control schemes. I buy what I want, and if they don't release what I want in the US, I buy it from overseas. Now I can do it with DVD's as well.

So now I'm rubbing my hands together thinking about all those Japanese and Korean films I've been wanting to see, like Attack the Gas Station and Shiri. This isn't going to cost as much as a PS2 or a new hard disk, but it will be a constant trickle .

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:24 PM

September 06, 2001

Television At It's Finest

Speaking of Cartoon Network, I recorded their Adult Swim premiere. This is the late night cartoon line-up supposed to appeal to folks ages 18-35. I have to say I'm almost universally disappointed.

While each show I watched had at least a couple of chuckles, I can't imagine making a concerted effort to see them again. Home Movies is one of the few segments which has been receiving some critical kudos, but it's so damn boring! The Brak Show is a spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. I'm sorry, Tom, but it seldom made me titter. And SGCTC is still not sufficiently interesting to keep me glued to the tube. Harvey Birdman was actually the funniest of the bunch to me, and I may watch it again.

I read one reviewer's opinion of Sealab 2021, which called it a series of cheap jokes targetted at offending everybody. I could see how some might be offended by the humor, but I was just offended by the lack of it. That leaves Cowboy Bebop, and since I can buy the original series on DVD unsullied by dubbing,why would I bother? So it looks like Adult Swim is gonna sink. Too bad. Cartoon Network's idea of 'adult' is pretty sad.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:00 PM

Grossology

I came home early today with a sore throat, and it's just as well as things are getting worse. I kidded myself that I'd stick to my regular Thursday night exercise routine, just with lower weights. Not gonna happen. Instead I'm vegging in front of the computer, doin' IRC and browsing websites.

Tried to be fatherly and play Slamwich with Kelly. She played one round, then enticed me into a rug wrestling match. That was okay until she thought it would be cute to drop a ropy loogy onto my face. She is currently spending the rest of the evening without Cartoon Network.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:43 PM

September 05, 2001

Book Report

One thing which happened over the holiday weekend is that I finished Free Flight. An interesting book, and given the 'fun' travel I've had lately, I hope it comes true. He projects first shipments of jets from Eclipse around 2003, so I'll probably have to wait until 2004 to find out if it's working.

I also finished the third book in the six book series by Peter F. Hamilton. I did a page count (approximate) and this 'epic' is over three thousand pages long! Kinda sorry I started. Still, it's fun, and I'm not holding to any schedule.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:55 PM

September 04, 2001

The Fates Conspire

Alan, the owner of Agora, decided to move the hardware hosting this site to a new location downtown, and did some of the work over the Labor Day weekend. One consequence was that he locked down the web pages so people wouldn't modify them on the old site while he built the directories at the new site. This prevented lost postings.

It also prevented me from posting articles in the interval when I had the most time to do so. Now, I'm back at work, and the posts will proceed at the usual trickle. Que Sera Sera.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:15 PM

August 31, 2001

Do Not Remove This Tag

Bought some mirror mounting brackets yesterday, and reading the 'warranty' on the back had a good laugh (emphasis mine):

"The sale of this product is 'as is' and without any express warranties. Liability, if any, is limited to refund of purchase price only upon return of product and package to manufacturer's plant".

We don't want to give 'em too much rope, do we?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:41 PM

What Is The Matrix?

I've been working for my new boss for several weeks now. He's formerly of Intel, and has a hardnosed quantitative approach to measuring results. He has other ideas, which I've mentioned here, such as having every engineer travel to customer sites now and then, which make for some pain.

While my team lead was on vacation, I was asked to be the 'virtual' team lead, as well as running a new measurement process, and doing my own work. I also had to take a day trip to San Jose and coordinate a lot of information that came out of that visit with the customer. During those three weeks, I must have had an average of two meetings a day, about half of which were two hour meetings. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit fragmented.

Yesterday, Dave (my new boss, whom I've also annointed Travel Man), held an all hands meeting to discuss progress and look to the future. At the end of the meeting, he handed out awards for various accomplishments. Guess what. I got one! This was in recognition of the work described above, apparently done to his satisfaction.

Sitting on my desk right now is a 'hermetically sealed' plastic 'blister box' containing the bullet-time tableau between Neo and Agent Smith, from The Matrix. "Recommended For Mature Collectors." The link above (which may go stale after awhile) says it costs around $20, but it's the thought that counts .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:31 AM

August 30, 2001

The Continuing Adventures of Travel Man!

Yesterday my boss went on a customer visit. It was a day trip, leave here in the morning, return in the evening. He was travelling to ... Minneapolis!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:37 AM

Iron Monkey

Browsing the Internet last night I was dumbfounded to find that Iron Monkey is being released in American theatres. I was too lazy or impatient to click through to the trailer, but I'm assuming this will be an English dubbed version. It's kinda funny to see this coming out, since the movie is eight years old. When a trend hits, I guess you mine it.

I have the Hong Kong DVD, and it's a lot of fun. Gotta find out where it's showing in town, since this is certainly a good NOVA movie.

P.S. - The URL above has a dash in it. Without it, you get this .

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:29 AM

August 29, 2001

The Road To Scoville

Yesterday I had the opportunity to taste a sauce made from the Habanero pepper. Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I realized that this was a bad idea, but apparently my forebrain hadn't connected to this yet. I like Jalapenos, after all, so this should be tasty, no?

I took a tiny bite of Chicken Mole Tamalon, with just an eighth of a teaspoon of the Habanero sauce on it. Chewing, I felt the heat, not bad. Swallowing, I had the experience one gets when the brain realizes that the body is doing something stupid in the nanosecond after it is too late to override. The heat in my mouth was escalating alarmingly.

In moments I was reaching for my water, swirling it around my mouth, trying to extinguish the fire. As the morsel hit my stomach, other reactions were set in motion, apparently, as I was treated to a sequence of rapid-fire burps, bang! bang! bang! Nothing else came up, and there was no abdominal pain, surprisingly, but it was kinda funny.

For the next hour eating the most innocuous and bland material reminded me of my experiment, as any food touching my mouth triggered a renewed burst of heat. I've since researched the Scoville rating for Habaneros, and find they are twenty to one hundred twenty times hotter than Jalapenos! Oof.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 AM

August 28, 2001

Pushing It

Kelly is becoming an endangered species. On returning from Midland, she professed a fondness for her grandmother's fried chicken, and practically begged Jean to make it for her. Jean went to the trouble of calling her mother, getting the recipe, going to the store with Kelly, then cooking for another couple of hours. When she presented Kelly with this feast, Kelly declared "I'm not hungry."

The tension at home last night was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Kelly finally aquiesced and ate some, only to declare that it wasn't the same as Grandma's. Suffice it to say that Jean was hurt after all the effort, and that she intends to do no special cooking from now on.

I told Kelly that if she wanted anything special from now on, she could make it herself (with adult supervision, of course). I've yet to test this new rule.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:48 PM

Recap

Last Wednesday, Jean and Kelly flew to Midland, Michigan to visit with the grandparents. I dropped them off at the airport around 7:30am. They were to return around 11am on Sunday. So I partied like a crazy batchelor, right? Let us recap...

Rewinding, around Tuesday night I was feeling a little off, with a sore throat and rough lungs. By Wednesday morning it was plain I had some simple viral infection. I went straight to work from the airport, worked a full day, then came home. My first wild batchelor act was to go out and get some takeout food. I brought it home, and after eating it, I spent the next couple of hours vegging in front of the Replay box.

On Thursday, I again worked a full day, then came home and spent some time working on a poster board I had planned on mounting a Kanji chart on. After this, I ate lightly, then crashed again.

By Friday, I was beginning to feel better, so I went grocery shopping after work. Actually, I experimented with moving the computers around between the kitchen and the den, then I went grocery shopping. I got really wild, and bought some Boca vegetarian bratwurst. Tasted good too.

Saturday I was on the mend, and I went to visit my friend Tom, and was joined by my friend Alan. Most of the day was taken up with conversation, I sat around reading a comic book, and we all went to Uwajimaya to shop. I bought Kelly volume one of Card Captor Sakura (she got volume three on our last field trip).

On Sunday I had my brush with the Godfather. I found a horse's head in my bed. Actually, it was a lone dead wasp lying on the living room floor. I have a strong phobia regarding the hymenoptera, so I was totally depressed and fearful. I bottled that little devil, for future microscope experiments, and went to pick up Jean and Kelly at the airport. We've since arranged for a visit from the Bug Man, a professional killer.

So that was my wild batchelor adventure. Eat your hearts out, you sticks in the mud!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:42 PM

August 27, 2001

The Incidental Tourist

I was twenty-eight years old before I ever rode in an airplane, and at that it was a typical airliner, and a cross-country flight. Now of course I've ridden dozens of airplanes, and it is routine if unpleasant. But my mindset is still 'preflight'.

I met my boss in the parking lot this morning, and in the chic chat on the way in, I asked how his weekend was. "It was good. The wife wanted to take the kids to Legoland, so I used my frequent flier miles and we flew down to San Diego. We hit the San Diego Zoo too."

This was apparently a casual decision. I'm not saying they decided to fly down on Thursday and booked the tickets, I don't know that. But really, it seemed just so matter of fact for him. Of course he's been a manager for a long time, and flying is part of his job, but it just seemed so foreign to me.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 AM

August 26, 2001

QOTD

"It's easy to like someone when you don't know what they're saying."

David Sedaris, on This American Life, the Paris Edition.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:42 PM

August 21, 2001

Pop Nots!

Pop Nots!, for people who buy manufactured homes! If you think Doug McClure is a star, you'll love Pop Nots!.

reactions supplied by Jean

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:15 PM

August 20, 2001

The Party, Part Two

Sunday the family went down to Mentor for the annual Mentor Picnic. This year's theme: Under the Big Top. They had lots of entertainment of the kid variety. There were four 'Mad Science' booths showing off lots of exciting, visually appealing science experiments. They had a tent (the bigtop) with rotating performances from The Reptile Man, a herpetologist, the magic act and the Mad Science show. Then off in another direction they had the usual assortment of huckster kid's games, like hook-the-fish-and-win-a-prize.

As if that wasn't enough, they had an inline-skating school giving free lessons in the Commons parking lot. Kelly waited for twenty minutes to try it out, then gave up five minutes after getting the skates on. I assured her it only got easy if you practiced, and that everybody who was skating without falling down had done a lot of just that.

There was food, candy, pop, the works. Another tent was for face-painting (Kelly became a tiger, I'll try to post the picture soon), massages (neck and back only, I got one), and manicures. What heathens these Mentorites be! They don't call it Club Mentor for nothing.

One thing I discovered. The campus doesn't seem all that large to me, but put a couple hundred people, several tents and fifty or so lawn tables out there, and it gets very easy to get separated from your loved ones. On more than one occasion, I went to get a beverage and then spent fifteen minutes circling the campus looking for Jean and Kelly.

Well, I don't want to natter on forever. Suffice to say that we all enjoyed it. Oh, and the magic act sucked

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:19 PM

The Party, Part One

Saturday I took Kelly to the party for Rachel and Sarah, a couple of her friends. I brought my Gameboy, and thank goodness I did. Extremely introverted as I am, I'm not too comfortable making conversation with people I've never met, so after a few polite exchanges, I lapsed into silence, and alternated watching Kelly with playing Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and reading cheap space opera fiction.

All would have been well except that Rachel's grandmother was there, and was one of those oblivious talkers. That is to say, all she needs is somebody in proximity to her, and she'll begin a conversation which consists of her sharing every little detail of her lawn watering strategy, and each of it's little failings. I was plainly playing my game and she sat down across from me and began, "with my knees, I can't stand up for long. Gosh that lawn looks brown! Of course, the weather is so unpredictable..." and so on. Gah!

At least Kelly had a good time, even getting to ride a pony. Seems that a friend of the family has a lot of them, and offered to drive one out to suburbia and let all ten kids have a ride. Happy days.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:51 AM

From the Annals of the Department of Redundancy Department

wood s lot points us to this review of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon.

Unfortunately, the passage quoted contains the following phrase which caught my eye:

"...Solomon manages to give the reader a sense of depression's shape-shifting, protean character."

Reviewer Judith Lewis is probably a fine writer. She's probably a better writer than I. But I can't help pointing out that protean means "readily assuming different shapes and forms." So we can rewrite the passage above as:

"...Solomon manages to give the reader a sense of depression's shape-shifting, many-shaped character."

Oops.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:41 AM

August 18, 2001

Busy Week, Busy Weekend

This was the first week of development of the next release cycle at work, and as such I've had my head down and shoulder to the wheel, as it were. Come Friday night, I had to clear my queue of optional home tasks, so I got to bed at around 11:45, after:

The installation of X Windows (XFree86) on my iBook was interesting, to me anyway. After all the install work, I successfully started the X server, only to see that the window manager was TWM (Tom's Window Manager)! This is literally the first window manager I ever used, when I started programming on Unix. That was something like 1985. Talk about blasts from the past. And the irony of course, of running the ancient window manager on my modern laptop computer.

Next task, then, is to hunt up a more modern window manager. I think I recall reading that the Mac port of XFree86 doesn't support virtual screens yet, so no multiple-desktop managers just yet. Still, by the time I'm ready to buy another computer, maybe a year from now, I'll have all the kinks worked out, and will be able to use my laptop as a productive Mac, and as a X11 workstation when I want to.

As for the weekend, we've got the usual chores, and, on Saturday, a birthday party for some of Kelly's friends (don't know where it is yet), and NOVA in the evening. On Sunday it's Mentor's annual company picnic, with the theme "Under the Big Top". There simply is no excuse, gotta take Kelly to that. So the weekend is more crowded than usual.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:02 AM

August 12, 2001

Corrupting the Young

Today's field trip: Kinokuniya bookstore, located within spacious Uwajimaya Asian grocery, in Beaverton. Kelly was ready to buy all the translated Card Captor Sakura manga they had on hand, which given that they had volumes 2-5, and $12.95 per volume, would have cleaned me out for a couple of weeks. I finally got her to settle on Volume 2, and a pack of CCS trading cards.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:29 PM

Geek Sports

While I have no team to root for, I've been watching the International Conference on Functional Programming's 2001 contest. The contest is over, but the results won't be announced until early September, shortly after the conference. Bah.

There is progress, however, as they've announced all the contestants knocked out in the first round. Using that data, Bruce Hoult built a formula incorporating the various criteria stated by the judges to analyze the remaining competitors' results, and choose the winners.

It'll be interesting to see how close he comes, especially since his number one pick was programmed in C++, the language I use at work.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:14 PM

August 11, 2001

Mini Trips

Our trip to Las Vegas was mostly painless, so I've resolved to try to take a two or three-day vacation every quarter. In the Fall, we're tentatively going to do a long weekend at the Oregon coast (about a ninety minute drive, so we've always got the option of bagging it). In the Winter, we already promised Kelly we'd do our best to take her to Disneyland. She's never been there, hadn't even been born when Mentor sent Jean and I to Disney World.

So this morning Jean and I are chatting, and the topic comes up. She says she'll call AAA of Oregon to get information about Disneyland packages, including flights and hotels. I suggest that while she's at it, she might look into the coast trip as well.

"Oh, I don't think they'll have anything about that..." she says.

I reply, "AAA of Oregon? Thanks for the information about flights to California. We also want to take an auto trip to the coast of Oregon, but I know you don't know anything about auto trips..."

Jean had to admit it was probably worth asking...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:21 PM

More Book Chatter

I just returned a library book, after reading about half of it. The book was Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting By In America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Why did I return it half read? Was it a bad book?

Not at all. To my socially liberal sensibilities, it was a fine book, journalism in it's best light. Ehrenreich joins the ranks of the working poor for several months. She sets the goal of being able to pay for food and housing using only the money she can earn working unskilled jobs, posing as a recently divorced woman forced to re-enter the work force with no professional skills. She seeks to see what secrets the poor have for getting by on low wages, and discovers that there are no secrets, life is damn hard. Duh, huh?

It's in how she tells her tale, from direct experience living this life, that gives the book it's value. I eventually stopped reading it for the simple reason that the story was plain well before the end of the book. It echoed my own experience as an unskilled teenager and, early on, college student. I think any young person who isn't solely supported by their parents until they graduate from college and land that first job, knows what the life of the poor is like, at least a little. But being young, we don't really care, since we think we are invulnerable and immortal anyway. Most of us are lucky enough to transcend that initial poverty, though. And some of us, I'd guess, forget all about it.

Jean and I often reminisce about those days of eating beans and rice, living in shabby apartments, working and taking classes at the same time. Just a few different choices, a few bad breaks, and we'd be in this book. I've always said every kid should work food service or some other menial service job, so they get a taste of what they'll be doing their whole life if they don't find a skill and nourish it. Maybe I'll buy this book and store it away for when Kelly gets older...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:09 PM

August 08, 2001

Bibliophile

"Yes, I normally read four or five books at a time." - Cameron Barrett

Yeah, I used to do that too, before Kelly, before work reached E-05 levels, before, before, before. For a period of several years I used to keep a log of all the books I read, and the topics were varied, all over the map, and some years peaked at 250 books. I'm not so diligent about recording books as I finish them anymore, and I'm also more willing to put a book down before finishing it than I used to be.

I still read four or five books at a time, but it's more like "have a book in the dining room, a book in the bathroom, a book in the den, and book lying on that table over there, and the book in my hand this week." I still haven't finished The Arrogance of Power, for instance. So sometimes I don't so much give up on a book as forget I was reading it...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:22 AM

August 05, 2001

Strange Fruit

Kelly and I went for a walk this evening. There's a small greenspace near our home called Little Woodrose Park, and we went traipsing around there. Various fungus and animal detritus littered the trail, and Kelly spotted some amorphous brown blob which she took an interest in.

"Dad, look, it's a monkey uterus!"

"A monkey uterus!? Where's the monkey?"

"It's out there somewhere. It ejected the uterus, and went on it's way."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:30 PM

August 02, 2001

Whirlwind Tour

I'm back. The total trip time came to just under thirteen hours from leaving my house to returning. The meeting ended up being three hours rather than two, and I ate lunch with my boss and his boss' boss (though I really had nothing to say at the lunch, just listened and tried to look attentive and professional).

The flight turned into a sloth fest; I wasn't seated anywhere near the boss and marketing guru, so no shop talk. I ended up reading, over the two flights, 110 pages of Free Flight. It's pretty interesting, and well organized to make his case. I'll probably slow to a crawl now, since I don't have very many blocks of serious time for reading, and what time I do I'm usually more interested in vegging out after a long day. Speaking of which....

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:44 PM

August 01, 2001

Tooth Fairies and Other Demi-Gods

As Jean was preparing for bed, I found out from her that Kelly has a new scam. She's already lost one tooth, and the second is wobbling in it's socket. But she doesn't want to surrender the tooth to the Tooth Fairy. Still, she wants the traditional loot. So she's made a passel of fake teeth, and placed one under her pillow this evening, since she thinks the real one is ready to go.

Jean says, "I don't know what to do. I mean, she's got like six of them!"

My take is that she gets no money until the real tooth goes, on the principle that the Tooth Fairy is sorta like Santa Claus, and has some degree of omniscience. I stumbled when telling Jean this, and initially said "omnipotence." This led to a giggle fest as we imagined a two-inch imp with imponderable power. A continent would surely be lost in the battle between the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:59 PM

Travel, Ugh

Company confidentiality restrains me from mentioning the company, but I'm flying down to San Jose tomorrow for a customer visit for the first time in a couple of years. Worse, the total travel time, from home to airport to San Jose, and back until I'm home again, is gonna rack up 12 or more hours, but the meeting I'm participating in is scheduled to last two hours. I repeat, ugh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:06 PM

New Economy Lingo

Alan Batie announced his unemployment from Acme Frommets in the New Lingo Way:

"The dot bombing finally caught up with me..." Apparently, this isn't a new usage. Guess I'm just not hep enough.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:00 PM

Hunky Dory

On the way to Willowbrook this morning, Kelly asked what hunky dory means. I told her, but said I didn't know where it came from.

"I think it comes from England," she said.

I didn't really have any insight into that, and it turns out it's probably wrong, but I said maybe.

"I think they used it on ships," she said. "Like, 'Everything is hunky dory, Captain!'"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 AM

More Fluctuations

Condolences to Alan Batie, the owner of Agora, which hosts this weblog. In his words, he's been 'dot-bombed', i.e. laid off. On a more selfish note, I'm hoping this doesn't impact Agora to the extent that he has to shut down. I've got this weblog and NOVA running here. While both have portable domain names, it would still be a pain in the keyster to move them to another site.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 AM

July 30, 2001

G'night Gracie

That's it for me. I'm off to try one more time to get to the first save point of Castlevania, Circle of the Moon before calling it bedtime. Ta Ta!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:08 PM

Postal Booty

Amazon finally admitted that they were not going to get Jean's Bix Beiderbecke stuff anytime soon, and shipped me my order. Got my copy of James Fallows' Free Flight, about high-tech advances which may change the face of commercial aviation. And I also got my copy of Ágćtis byrjun, by Sigur Rós. Gonna play it on infinite loop in the office tomorrow. I'll let you know.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 PM

The One

Don't go through the official Sony site, because it makes you go through all sorts of lame Flash guano, slow even on a high-speed connection. But do hunt down and see the trailer for The One. This is Jet Li's next movie, and it looks like a ton of fun.

Okay, Romeo Must Die was a mediocre movie, and the main reason to watch a Jet Li movie, the dazzling martial arts sequences, was severely crippled by the MTV quick-cut editing. I don't think Corey Yuen is a bad martial arts choreographer, so I must blame the director, Andrzej Bartkowiak. He's had a very mixed career, and has even directed Jet Li before, in Lethal Weapon 4. But he just couldn't pull back the camera and show the fights.

Kiss of the Dragon was an improvement, but it still suffered from that MTV effect. Director Chris Nahon's first film, it seems only fair to note that I've heard he in fact was an MTV director before making the leap.

But special effects run rampant in The One, and that is a good thing, since it is clearly the American treatment of that grand old Hong Kong tradition, the flying people movie. Jet plays a cop (original...) who is being stalked by a power-mad killer from an alternate Earth. This killer is...him! And each time the killer kills 'himself', the power of that 'version' is divided up between all the other alternate Jets. Sounds corny, huh? Sounds like an ideal NOVA movie to me.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:52 PM

No Tame Geckoes

Talkin' trash with Kelly this evening I suggested that we could control the bugs around the house by having a few geckoes. Unfortunately it seems they are not tame, and can't be potty-trained. I asked if we couldn't raise a few baby geckoes, since then we could potty-train those. But no, she says if they start out wild, then their children will also be wild, and we can't change that.

So how come we can domesticate horses then? "We give them a m-molecule, that makes them nice, and they can be potty-trained then."

Why not give the geckoes a molecule then? "We don't know about that yet. So there's no molecule to give them. So we can't have geckoes!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:01 PM

Scratch N' Sniff

That's the title of a recent Farscape episode, and the first one in my queue on my Replay box. I sat down to watch it, and in the first five minutes, I said, "Hey, they're doing a Guy Ritchie homage." Or a rip-off, since there was no credit to him. He didn't direct it, that honor went to Tony Tilse.

Since Guy is pretty hot right now, what with coming off the Indie circuit last year with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (USA release, 1999, actually), then following up with Snatch, and a very funny contribution to the BMW Films series, it's easy to understand why they'd want to tip their hats, being fellow Brits and all, but a written acknowledgement would have been nice too, even if it was bloody obvious who they were copying.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:46 PM

July 29, 2001

Review Candidates

I've added a list of candidates for anime reviews to the right column of the anime review index. Most of these are candidates for the dual reasons that they seem interesting at first glimpse, and that they are available online, subtitled. My iBook is creaking under the weight of the downloaded files .

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:54 PM

July 28, 2001

Spendthrift

Okay, I promise that this is the last high-ticket item I'll be buying for awhile now (mostly because the Anime Expo Slush Fund is almost gone), but I bought a Bowflex. It's the basic model, but I wanted it because work is getting more demanding lately, and weeks can go by when I don't get to the gym on Mentor's campus. Since strength training is one of the most effective ways I know to keep my back from wigging out, I popped for the home gym. I've just started learning how to use it, but I think it will fill my needs.

But boy are those Bowflex reps on the videos sales-slime! I feel like I'm watching Mike Levy's Amazing Discoveries.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:19 PM

Marine Girl

Kelly is very happy. She's been swimming at the Sherwood YMCA, and has been in the Guppy class for several weeks. She's a good swimmer, to hear Jean tell it. I haven't seen her swim since last summer, because her swim class is during my work hours.

So a couple of days ago she swam the length of the pool, totally casual about the whole thing, and would have swum it twice but for the 'open swim' session ending. Then yesterday, she took the swim test for the next level and passed! She is now a Minnow. Go get 'em, Tigershark.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:09 PM

Britney Spares

According to Kelly, while listening and dancing to her Britney Spears album, Britney Spears has a sister, named Britney. No last name, to avoid confusion.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:05 PM

July 26, 2001

Wee, Not So Wee, And...

Forgot to mention, Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack, at 3 CDs and 67 tracks, is HUGE!.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:47 PM

Ambient Music

I'm listening to the Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack that I bought at Anime Expo 2001, and man is it good! It is especially good for when I'm concentrating on code, as it is more ambient music, along the lines of Fresh Aire, Philip Glass and Brian Eno's ambient music, than say, Modest Mouse, where I just have to stop what I'm doing and listen to the lyrics.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:25 PM

July 25, 2001

Amusing Voting Scheme

From Netizen News...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:41 PM

I18N Park

I18N is geek for Internationalization. Get it? I-18-characters-N. Saves a lot of typing. Internationalization is geek for ... um ... making your software readable in other countries? Sorta.

If that's not enough, I10N stands for Localization. Clever lot, us geeks.

Anyway, maybe this has to do with my recent viewing of Jurassic Park III, but when I saw this URL, I saw not i18ngurus, but Ignasaurus. Just one of the dozens of ways my aging brain tries to amuse me as I dodder along...

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:41 PM

July 24, 2001

Adobe Backpedals

Adobe was apparently shocked that people actually cared about their freedom, and has asked for Dmitry Sklyarov to be released. They had previously filed for his arrest under the DMCA. The Justice Department may still prosecute him, the fools.

For the record, Sklyarov and his company make a product which removes the copy-protection from Adobe ebooks, but only on paid copies to enable using said ebooks on 'partially sighted' computer devices. As Andrew Orlowski says: "it's difficult to see what Adobe is losing here, except for its ability to rob the blind. Literally."

The DMCA must go.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 AM

July 23, 2001

The Interviews

That was faster than I thought! The AMV interviews article is up now. For those of you with browsers which recognize style sheets, I've experimented with color to separate the answers of the three authors. Let me know how this works out.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:33 PM

Anime Music Video Review

Now that the post-Anime Expo 2001 NOVA meeting is over, and everybody knows who won the Anime Music Video Contest, I'm free to post my review of the contest. It was under 'embargo' until Dan and Terry presented the retrospective video at the meeting.

I've received permission from Dan, Terry and Eric to post my interview with them here as well. That will happen as soon as I've had a chance to format it for the web.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:09 PM

July 22, 2001

Parenting With Love and Conditioner

Kelly's bath tonight didn't go smoothly. She's in the testing zone again, and decided she couldn't hear me when I told her it was time to sit up and get her hair washed. I told her that she'd have to wash her hair and body without help, then walked out. In addition, the lights in the bathroom were going out at 8pm.

As in the book Parenting With Love and Logic, I gave her a choice, and let her 'own the consequences' of her action. The side-effect of this is that you as a parent have to be willing to live with the consequences of your actions. At about 8:08, I walked in to check on Kelly, fully expecting to find her playing with toys, since she wasn't crying for help.

But no, not at all. She'd stepped up to the challenge of cleaning herself, by using most of a bottle of conditioner in her hair. I told her I was proud of her for taking responsibility for cleaning herself since she hadn't listened to me, but it still took five minutes to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.

Gotta remember to add conditioner to the shopping list.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:30 PM

QOTD

It's wine night on Terebi II. A quote about Robert Parker from Newsweek:

"When Robert Parker spits, people listen..."

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 PM

Oh the Irony

Glancing through my recent copies of The Wine Advocate, what do I find in the June/July issue? "Recommended New Releases: Australia" .

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:36 PM

I Are Wine Connosewer

For my birthday, Jean got me a subscription to the Wine Advocate, since I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner now and then. I first found out about this 'newsletter' by reading a profile of Robert Parker in The Atlantic Monthly, a good magazine. But my needs are pretty simple, and I've been happy to imbibe from a $10 bottle purchased at the local grocery store, for the most part.

This weekend, I decided to perform an experiment to see how 'simple' a wine I could consume without wrinkling my nose. I entered the grocery store wine section, moved to the import aisle, and sought out Chilean wines. Why? Because I had fond memories of a particular Pinot Noir bought in Lake Grove early in our Oregon residency. So I found the Chilean wines, selected a Cabernet Sauvignon for $6, and a much larger bottle of Pinot Noir for $6 again! Really testing conventional wisdom here, folks.

So this evening I opened the large bottle, and it was only then that I noticed that the larger bottle was not from Chile, but rather from Slovenia. Oops. Tried it. Didn't spray it across the room. I've had better, but I've had worse that cost much more. So I don't know what this experiment proves, other than I don't know wine from grape juice.

P.S. - I skipped the Australian wine section. I could only hear the voice of Eric Idle, intoning in a broad Aussie accent: "Many people poo-poo the Australian table wine."

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:25 PM

July 20, 2001

Card Captor Sakura

I finally got around to unloading the Expo photos from my digital camera. In the banner you'll find a photo of two costumed con-goers, as characters from Card Captor Sakura (or Card Captors, as they are called on American television). This is the best photo I got. Some others are not too bad, and maybe I'll inflict them on you later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:01 PM

July 19, 2001

Boycott Adobe

I'd boycott Adobe, but that'd require that I be planning on buying something new from them in the near future. Maybe I'll just buy one of those nifty boycott T-shirts.

Asked about Adobe's abuse of the DMCA to harass security experts, Mr. Bumble replied:

'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, 'the law is a ass, a idiot.'

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:25 PM

Next? Sliced Mayonnaise!

Okay, today's my day for swiping links from other weblogs, but this one is just too good: Sliced Peanut Butter. As in Kraft Singles American cheese slices, only with peanut butter!

Grabbed from Gammatron.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:16 PM

More Cheese, Gromit?

Cool! Via Kottke.org, I found that Wallace and Gromit will be coming to the silver screen. If you don't know Wallace and Gromit, you may have seen the previous feature-length animation from his studio, Chicken Run.

The earlier adventures of Wallace and Gromit, which we have on videotape, and I and Kelly both love, are being released to DVD in September. Highly recommended.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:07 PM

July 18, 2001

SciFi Commercial

I'm sitting down here in the den writing these entries on my iBook, with some Robocop special running on the Replay box. Normally I use the 30 second skip feature to jump over all the commercials, but since I'm writing, some of them slip through. This time it was worth it.

The commercial is for some snack chip, and shows some technician on a spaceship standing in a corridor eating the chips while soldiers go running past, and a computer voice warns of an alien intruder. As soon as the hatch slams shut on the soldiers, he turns around to spot the alien, looking like a cross between Alien and Predator. With a chip halfway to his mouth, the alien snarls, exposing wicked sharp teeth. He pops the chip into the alien's mouth. This goes on to the point where he is confidently mocking the alien and making it snarl for a chip when he notices the bag is empty...

It actually made me cackle. Too bad I don't intend to buy any of the chips...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:01 PM

Visible Seeth

Mentor had a picnic after work, with live music. I invited Kelly down to hang with me, and Jean drove her down and dropped her off. After grabbing a bite to eat, we wandered around the campus -- the music was loud enough and bouncing off the buildings, so we could hear it anywhere. My friend Burr showed up and he and I got to talking, so Kelly ran off and engaged every kid in sight in playtime. She was chasing ducks, rolling down the hill in the grass, and generally being a terror.

I gave her several warnings that we were going to leave at about 7:15pm, since 'we' had already gotten in trouble with her Mom for not coming in from a walk before bedtime yesterday. She tried valiantly to ignore me, but eventually I called her in, got her shoes on and said "let's go." She was very unhappy.

Rather than let her drive things, Burr and I simply started walking toward the parking lot, talking and not looking back. An occasional swing of the head and peripheral vision check showed she was following, reluctantly, some fifty feet behind. However, that wasn't very satisfying, since we weren't seeing her dissatisfaction. She finally ran to catch up, until she was to one side and a few feet ahead, and then pullled a very unhappy face at us, just so we knew how she felt.

She snapped out of it quickly when I offered her a bite of the ice cream bar I'd picked up on the way out. Somehow the whole thing ended up in her hand!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:47 PM

Navel Gazing

Today I added a website to my link rotation, for a news site called Netizen News. Visiting it tonight, I find a link back to Terebi II! Fast work, boys!

"Terebi II, a nifty E/N site linked us", they say. Huh? I'm too old to be clued into the argot, so I did a search and found E/N stands for "everything and nothing". Well, fair enough. Anybody following the link from Netizen News be warned, this is more 'nothing' than 'everything' here. Take care.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:38 PM

July 16, 2001

Sticky Site

As if I don't have enough trouble keeping the weight off, I stumbled onto stickyrice.com today. I'm a huge fan of sushi, so much so that I'll even buy the 'white trash' sushi you can buy at the grocery store just to get a fix. I'm not likely to try making my own sushi, but the site will serve to drive me out to the sushi restaurants around here more often, I'm sure. And maybe I'll learn a sauce or two to add to my Sauce Mayonnaise success.

Sushi factoid: 'wasabi may help prevent tooth decay.'

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:06 PM

Shopping When Hungry

Budget gurus say you shouldn't do your grocery shopping when you are hungry. I've discovered another axiom: Don't take your six-year old with you to Costco. I went to buy some protein bars, and that's it. I took Kelly with me to give Jean a chance to study for her microbiology exam.

In short order, we bought fresh apple cider (free samples aren't always free), multigrain bread (my choice, to balance the apple cider), Freddi Fish and the Case of the Creature of Coral Cove, which Kelly practically begged for, and Castlevania, which I bought for parity .

Kelly played all the way through Freddi Fish in one afternoon, so I suppose it wasn't wasted money. I on the other hand, have another game with which to humble myself. I haven't even managed to get to the first save point yet. Humiliation builds character...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:56 AM

July 14, 2001

New VCR

I had some money left over from Anime Expo, and the living room VCR was becoming unreliable on record (or so I'm told, I do all my recording with the Replay box nowadays), so I ran up to Video Only and picked up a Panasonic PV-V4621 VCR. Features that weren't on the old one include VCR+ (Jean may use it, but I'm not impressed), commercial advance (almost as cool as the 30 second skip button on the Replay) and automatic clock setting. So far so good, we'll see how VCR+ works out as Jean gets used to the unit.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:59 PM

Cats And Dogs

I took Kelly to see Cats and Dogs today. Not too bad, with just enough subtext to keep a juvenile adult interested. Kelly of course loved it. Afterwards I took her across the street to Baskin Robbins, where she had a scoop of orange sherbet, and a scoot of 'margarita', a sorta lime sherbet. When she finished, she told me "that was really good. It was so good I could use another."

I said I didn't want to spoil her supper, so no more ice cream. She thought a moment and said, "it doesn't even have to be two scoops..." then gauging my facial response, "or it could even be a small single scoop..."

"No Kelly, I'm sorry. After dinner you can have a little ice cream at home."

You have to have a six year-old to appreciate how treating someone to ice cream can turn into a major human rights violation. I ain't gettin' no gratitude here, ya know what I mean?

Addendum

After dinner now, Kelly is getting her 'little' bit of ice cream and has begun to negotiate again. "That's all?" Yep, I say. "Just a sliver more will do," she says. By this time I'm cracking up. You're always negotiating, I say. So I give her her 'sliver' of extra ice cream. As I walk away, I hear her say to Jean, "now, my cookie."

The final moment which sent me racing for the keyboard: "just one?"

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:47 PM

Pathetic Fan Boy(tm)

I went to the Final Fantasy movie site last night, and while there downloaded a desktop image (three actually) of Aki Ross, the main character. She now graces my laptop, at least for a few days .

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:40 PM

July 13, 2001

Burnout Break

I was getting way too toasty from all the catch-up work, and two of my 'critical' tasks are now waiting on input from others out of the office, so when Brent invited me, I agreed to take off for a lunch movie (having worked overtime the last three days, it balances out fine). Guess what I went to see...

That's right! Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within! I won't give a full review. Suffice to call it a magnificent failure. Despite all its flaws, I think I'd see it again. Of course, it helps that I'm smitten with Aki, the lead female character. I'd love to meet her reference model. She sort of reminds me of a younger Linda Fiorentino.

Yes, Jean knows I find women other than her attractive, so you can't rat me out! But she's still my lovey bunny... (Jean is, you stinker!)

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:47 PM

July 12, 2001

Submerged

I've been back from Anime Expo 2001 for a few days now. I'm totally swamped at work now, so even composing a note over lunch is tough. At home, I'm working on an article covering the Anime Music Video contest at AX (in my copious spare time) and I want to do a good job on it, so I won't be writing any weblog entries at home until I complete that.

So I'm still alive, had fun at Expo, and will write more later...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:31 AM

July 03, 2001

QOTD

If the founding fathers could have legislated this far into the future, do you really think Dr. Laura would be legal?

Dave Pell, NextDraft

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:44 AM

Phrase of the Day

I asked Carsten if he had some time today, no critical issues, I just wanted to touch bases. Then it occured to me that I didn't really know the etymology of that phrase. Sure, it was probably from baseball, but I'm not into sports, so...

Internet to the rescue!:

There's an even subtler connection to baseball. After an interruption in play (a foul ball, for example) everything pauses, then recycles to start again. A rule provides that a runner on base must return to that base, and touch it, before play resumes. By extension, someone out of town on business will touch base by calling home, to make contact, to tie up loose ends, to set the universe on its proper axis, and be ready to start over from a fixed position.

bob

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:54 AM

Sowing the Seeds

From the Department of the Law of Unintended Consequences, comes this unforseen negative attribute of genetically engineered organisms. While many opponents have worried about ecological disasters, it seems we weren't pessimistic enough.

Monsanto is suing farmers for having it's patented genetically modified crops on their land. In some of the suits, the farmers actually bought the organisms for one crop year, and are being sued on the basis of 'saving seed in violation of legal agreements'.

But in other cases, they are just 'auditing' the crops of farmers in a region where their seed is sold, and then suing farmers with said organism in their crops. In both cases, the mere fact that life will find a way to spread seems to be ignored in the suits. Are the farmers (both those who buy and those who are merely in proximity) supposed to salt the earth between crops to satisfy Monsanto?

What got me thinking about this was a news article this morning about the Earth Liberation Front, a monkeywrenching group which has been destroying GM research plots and committing arson on some labs. Public officials are playing a positioning game, labelling the ELF a 'terrorist' organization. If you cut down thousands of acres of old growth forest you are an entrepreneur, but...

Anyway, while the farmers have acquired legal help, it occured to me that what is really needed is a pro bono legal service along the lines of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, or the ACLU, only focused on questioning GM patents and corporate abuse of same. The two aforementioned organizations are very good at attacking violators of civil liberties, but nobody seems to want to tackle this emerging area. What we need is the equivalent of 'environmental ambulance chasers'. That is, lawyers who have the self-interested expectation of winning suits against abusive corporations like Monsanto, with the side-effect of protecting the farmers who are currently being harassed.

By the way, while all this may sound massively liberal (it is), I don't think that the worker in the field, such as the lumberjacks who work for the large lumber companies, are in any way evil. The usual semantic attack is to say that you must hate the little guy if he works for the big, bad corporation. Not so.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:27 AM

July 02, 2001

No Photos

This weekend's outing was to the Portland Children's Museum. We met with Sari and Trinity at Sari's workplace, which is a food testing laboratory, then carpooled to the museum.

The museum used to be on the Southeast side of Portland, and the building was old, rather like a fifty-year old middle school with old asbestos pipes, warped wood floors and the like. Still, they had imagination and did a good job making it fun for kids.

The new museum is now next to the Oregon Zoo, on the site of the original Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which has moved across the river to Southeast Portland. Thus they've swapped places, and both have new facilities!

While both have lots of new exhibits and remain fun for the kids, they also seem to have sacrificed a measure of the creativity that came with operating on a shoestring. It's only a small reduction, but I feel it. Nevertheless, I suspect we'll be taking Kelly back to the Children's Museum again this summer, probably with her friend Trinity once more.

I got lazy and didn't take my camera, which is a shame, because I missed two photos of the sort I love to get. These are the ironic images which make good banner photos for a weblog . Both were at Sari's lab (Sari is Trinity's grandmother, or as seems popular out here on the Left Coast, Nona).

The first photo you won't see is of a pop machine vending mostly Coke products. There were four 2"X2" buttons for various flavors of pop, and one 6"X6" button for Coke! Guess they had an opinion on which pop you should choose.

The second photo would have shown a rack of tea bag dispenser boxes, below which were about a dozen Pyrex flasks. It would have been cuter if the flasks had had tea-leaf residue in the bottom, but it still tickled my funny bone.

I might post once or twice before the 4th of July, but after that things will be quiet until at least the following Monday. That's because I'll be attending Anime Expo 2001 in the interrim. I'm looking forward to it since I haven't been to the last two. See ya later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 AM

June 30, 2001

Bat-Like Speed

This is so cool. I hope DSL keeps up these speeds. Just downloaded Mozilla 0.9.2 in 1:08! That's not one hour and eight minutes, which by the way was a real possibility before DSL. From first click to using the new browser (to write this post), less than three minutes. Coooool!

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:17 PM

Conventions Everywhere

Jean walks into the dining area, sees a bunch of glow-in-the-dark plastic spiders arrayed across the table, on top of toy furniture, interspersed with rocks and pebbles...

Jean: What are all these spiders doing here?

Kelly [without missing a beat]: They're having a conference.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:30 PM

June 29, 2001

Excerpts From A Late Evening

Kelly [whispering...at first]: Dad, save the mouse. Save the mouse. Dad, SAVE THE MOUSE!

Me: SSSSHHHHHHHssshhhh!!!

Kelly [whispering...]: Dad, save the mouse...

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:49 PM

Night Owl

Not surprisingly, Kelly wasn't ready to go to bed on schedule last night. I was working on the new banner photo when she came cruising matter-of-factly into the den, selected a manga compilation (Dragonball, Vol. 1 tankouban) off my bookshelf, and settled in on the captain's bed to flip through it's pages.

Knowing that she'd had that nap earlier, I let her stay and continued working. After finishing up my computer work, I sat beside her and fired up the Gameboy Advance, with Chu Chu Rocket running. Man what a crazy game. I can believe the reviews that call it addicting, but I'll have to say for a clumsy uncoordinated guy like myself, it's also gonna be frustrating!

There is a rectangular grid around which run the little mice, frequently pursued by larger 'cats'. At various locations are 'rockets' which you need to direct your mice to, in order to escape the cats. You do this by placing arrows in their paths to make them turn. Sounds simple, but the speed picks up, more cats show up, and on and on. Kelly loved it just watching. I'm going to let her try it herself once I figure out how to tune the difficulty levels.

And oh yeah, Kelly finally retired at 11pm.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:37 AM

June 28, 2001

Catplesauce

It took me five days, rather than one, but the banner picture gleaned from the party has been posted. Maybe in another five days I'll get around to posting selected pictures to a bday party gallery .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 PM

Toy Boy

It's six days until the flight to Anime Expo 2001, the four-day Japanese animation convention, which has grown in size and scope such that I truly don't have to worry about finding things to do. It's been three years since I last went. I usually go every other year, but my trip has always coincided with and conflicted with Jean's family's biannual family reunion, so I broke ranks and adjusted my schedule to go on years the Moyers were not getting together. So I fly down with the gang on the 4th of July, and back on the 9th.

Since I knew Alan had bought a Gameboy Advance, I sprang for one myself, buying two games to play on the flight (and a gamelink cable so I can play against Alan): Chu Chu Rocket, a cute puzzle game that I think Kelly will enjoy playing too, and for chuckles, Fire Pro Wrestling, which is a Japanese version of WWF wrestling shows.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:38 PM

Comforting Thoughts

It's nice to know that Kelly has got some good habits engrained already. Jean's mom sent her a package of some of her childhood toys. One was a box containing a toy village. Jean let Kelly look at it, going into the den to write a letter (maybe even a thank you for sending the package?).

After a short interval, Kelly came into the den to show Jean a small box. It was a box of matches from a Midland restaurant, that had somehow gotten into the box containing the toy village. Kelly handed the matches to Jean, and said "somebody could set something on fire!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 PM

Stunt Woman

I didn't witness it myself, but apparently Kelly took a spill at swim class. She was in line to take the ladder into the pool, and instead she hit a slippery patch (not running or misbehaving) and landed quite hard on her butt.

When I got home, she was taking a nap. She was trying to flee the trauma, I guess. She got up once kinda dazed and still asleep, and wandered about until we directed her to the bathroom. After a bit more rest, she got up and seemed quite chipper. After I put her to bed tonight, she seemed totally normal.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:21 PM

Uncharitable Thoughts

A woman I know (mother to one of Kelly's friends) appears to want every last hair in place, perfect makeup, 365-day tan, on and on. Unfortunately, it all seems rather plastic, and the tan is on the raw side. Woolgathering, I realized what she reminded me of:

Somebody left a Barbie doll on the dashboard in the sun too long.

Yes, I've already gone to confession (i.e. Jean)

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:37 PM

More Goof-ese

From one of my company's spam-announcements:

"Please do not reply to this message. It was sent from an unattended mailbox."

Then who the heck sent it?

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:31 PM

Is That All It Takes?

"...this Japanese cartoon, made popular for American audiences through English dubbing..."

[emphasis mine]

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:23 PM

June 26, 2001

Payable Weblogs

Radio Possibility is what I was asking for in a weblog service from Userland Software when they were flogging their Weblogging software. They provide free sites at several domains, and I got my start at Terebi I. But since it was free, the service was whatever bandwidth they could spare, and it got frustratingly slow. I begged Dave Winer to charge me money so the service could be upgraded, but no go. He didn't want to be an ISP, and I can respect that.

So now Marek is taking the step that I wanted months ago. Such a shame that I migrated all my writing to this site already. If this site (based at Agora) ever goes down, perhaps I'll look into Radio Possibility again.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:33 AM

June 23, 2001

Rated R

Jean exercises with hand weights every day, and keeps her muscle tone very well. Last night, joking, she was striking body-builder poses for me, and saying "aren't I beautiful?"

She is, of course, but Kelly had to get into the act. "Oh, Mother, I love your beautiful legs! I love your strong stomach muscles! I love your beautiful arms! I love your beautiful flabby breasts!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 PM

Party Success

Overall the party was a success. I don't know if we are getting some kind of California effect, but we got two RSVPs this morning, for a party taking place at 11am! The result was five six-year olds (six and a half, as one corrected me) and a younger sister, running about, occasionally throwing a wobbly, but overall behaving quite fine.

I'll post a few pictures, but right now I'm feeling a twee bit lazy. Believe me, Jean did ten times as much as me, but exposure to six girls and three mothers totally drained my little introvert psyche.

Every few weeks I rotate the banner picture, replacing it with something which amuses me at the moment. I had a macro shot of a household spider in line, but it's been bumped by this week's feature shot, from the party. I'll try to post it tomorrow.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:49 PM

June 22, 2001

Never Ending Math Equation


I'm the same as I was when I was 6 years old

And oh my God I feel so damn old

I don't really feel anything

On a plane, I can see the tiny lights below

And oh my God, they look so alone

Do they really feel anything?

Oh my God, I've gotta gotta gotta gotta move on

Where do you move when what you're moving from

Is yourself?

The universe works on a math equation

that never even ever really ends in the end

Infinity spirals out creation

We're on the tip of its tongue, and it is saying

We aint sure where you stand

You aint machines and you aint land

And the plants and the animals, they are linked

And the plants and the animals eat each other

Oh my God and oh my cat

I told my Dad what I need

Well I don't want to have and want

But I don't know what I need

Well, he said he said he said he said

"Where we're going I'm dead."

From Building Nothing Out Of Something, by Modest Mouse

This is my honest to god most favoritest song of the last six months. I've got the album, and while other songs are cool, this one (the first) is the most drill-into-your-head cool on it. I'm ordering/getting The Lonesome, Crowded West this weekend. It contains Cowboy Dan, a tune I got off of Napster. Take that, RIAA rats!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:31 PM

June 21, 2001

Addendum

I neglected to mention that Mike and I were actual honest-to-God friends, and Jean and I often visited him and his wife Laura to engage in geeky entertainment like watching Gigantor and playing Call of Cthulu. How things have changed. Now I watch anime and play Final Fantasy VII (when I'm not doing Dad duty). Gotta wonder what Mike and Laura do when they're bored?

My current task is tracking down an efficiency/space problem in a tool at work. It quickly outpaces physical RAM, leading to lots of swapping, hence long runtimes! So I'm posting these short notes. Aren't you lucky?

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:22 PM

Voice to Face

It's official. The Voice From The Past belongs to Mike Walters. I worked with him at a Waldenbooks in Akron, Ohio, while taking classes at the University of Akron in Computer Science, a gig that eventually led me here to the Left Coast. Wonder of wonders, Mike is now also a Left Coaster, having fled the flatlands of Barberton, Ohio for sunny Southern California.

As if that isn't enough twisty news, it seems he's in the special effects industry working for the Hollywood wizards. I await his full story in the near future. Now all I gotta do is train him to get most of the Wakefield family news from this weblog, so I don't have to strain myself trying to write letters again .

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:15 PM

Now We Are Six

Kelly turned six yesterday. What a long strange trip it's been. She opened all her presents in the morning. I gave her my personal gift, the Britney Spears album she likes, though she seemed underwhelmed after all the Polly Pockets and Lincoln Logs and such.

When I got home last night, she broke out the cake. Jesus, she can eat a lot when sugar's involved. Now all that is left is the birthday party on Saturday. It may end up being a small affair, as one of her friends may not make it after all. Guess I'll have to be the entertainment .

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:10 PM

June 19, 2001

Almost A Teenager

At least, that's what Kelly told me last night, regarding the imminent arrival of her sixth birthday. She turns six on Wednesday, but the big celebration is on Saturday, when we have a gaggle of her friends over for a party. I'll try to take some pics then.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:01 PM

Voices From The Past

Before retiring last night, I checked email, and there was a mysterious message. "Hi, guess who I am!" was the gist. After dropping a hint that they'd joined my old weblog, I was able to backtrack and find the likely suspect. I'm not gonna say who, in case I blew it entirely in my guess; and I don't need any more embarassment than I get already!

But I place that voice in Ohio (these ten years past), and look forward to hearing more. If you are who I think you are, Jean guessed right away with no prompting, and says "Hi yerself!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:58 PM

Multitasking

When a computer can handle more than one program at a time (traditionally by switching the CPU between tasks too rapidly for a human to notice), it is called multitasking. I'm guilty of multigoofing. Last night I took the laptop downstairs, and while playing Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound on the Replay (a movie I surprisingly managed to miss when it was in theaters), I was also downloading digital anime and stupid Flash movies, watching both at the same time.

Of course the danger of that sort of behavior is that you'll go blind . Actually, I got a short night's sleep, not getting to bed before 12:30am. My own fault...

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:53 PM

Geek Movie Capsule Review

I read a review of Tomb Raider which fairly savaged it. At NOVA this weekend, I shared my findings with James. To give you an idea of his game-headed geekiness, my other friend Alan showed him the new Gameboy Advance, and he promptly disappeared into a Mario Advance-induced coma. We drove to a restaurant, he played with the GBA. We ate, he played with the GBA, pausing only to order, then scarf some food. He eventually stopped playing, but I think it was only because the batteries were running low .

Back to Tomb Raider. James of course saw it on opening day. Here is his review:

"It's not bad for a game-to-movie adaptation. It was not as good as Mortal Kombat, but it was way better than Mortal Kombat 2."

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:10 AM

June 15, 2001

Up, Up and Away

This shows how not plugged in to local events I am. I drove to work this morning and up in the sky were dozens of balloons. Hot-air balloons, that is. I recall this happening in the past around this time of year, so I looked it up on the Web, and found this page. It is stale, but seems accurate as to content.

Maybe next year I'll actually plan to attend with Kelly. According to the article, the Tigard Festival of Balloons is host to balloonists from all over the United States. Kelly would probably most appreciate Pet-a-Pawlooza .

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 AM

June 13, 2001

Picture Perfect

It must seem like I'm always buying something, but it's just a spate, really. Last night I went to Costco and bought a new printer, since the old one was failing. I just gave it a test run to make sure everything installed correctly, and used the photo of Kelly with her tooth missing as a color sample.

Boy have printers improved since the Epson Color 600 came out! The picture, on plain paper, is much smoother and photographic than any I got with constant tweaking on the Epson. And that is using mostly the default settings. I'm sure it can be made better, even before introducing coated papers, but I just can't make myself plumb the depths of another hardware manual just yet. The Designing Airport Networks document, together with the Setting Up Your Hardware Firewall document, not to mention the Playing Final Fantasy VII booklet , have got me worn out! Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll begin fiddling with producing super digital photos to hang in my office.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:39 PM

There Are No Vampires In Finland
Or Why No One Ever Heard Of Bela Ruotsi

Tonight's revelation. Kelly and I were seeing how lightly we could bite each other. After a little nibble, the following conversation took place:

Kelly: That was a light bite. I almost tasted blood!

Me: See these teeth? They have holes in the end, so when I bite you I can suck blood through them like a straw.

Kelly: Really?

Me: Sure. I'm a vampire.

Kelly: Nuh-UH. You have blue eyes, and vampires don't have blue eyes.

Me [thinking a moment, then]: Well, my ancestry is from Finland. Are you saying there are no vampires in Finland?

Kelly: That's right. No vampires are in Finland. They don't like it there.

Me: But wait a minute. Vampires hate sunlight. That's why they only come out at night. It's cloudy all the time in Finland, so vampires must love it there!

Kelly: Vampires don't like the dark. They come out in the dark to sneak up on people. So it has to be a little dark. But if it gets too dark, they trip. So vampires hate Finland, 'cause it's too dark.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 PM

June 11, 2001

Quickie

I watched the last available BMW movie last night. It was directed by Guy Ritchie, who created the movies Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He is a member of the club producing that proud genre, the Comic Crime story, along with Donald E. Westlake, Carl Hiaasen and Jimmy Breslin (who sorta made the label obvious with his comic crime novel The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight, but curiously only seems to have written the one comic crime novel).

Anyway, his movies are lower-class English, and very modern updates of the genre, and this short movie (6 1/2 minutes) is almost a side-story to his current work. Following the pattern of some of the other directors, he's got a name actor in a central role, Madonna! It turns out from the Director's Commentary that he is married to her, so that might have helped casting...

Though short, this is so clearly a Guy Ritchie movie, just as the Wong Kar-Wai movie held his inimitable stamp. The camera work, the sometimes subtle, sometimes over-the-top humor, all worked well. Another worth watching.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:40 AM

June 10, 2001

BMW Films

If you don't have a high bandwidth connection, find somebody who does. I've been working my way through BMW Films online movies (really six minute commercials for sporty Beemers), and I just got through watching Wong Kar-Wai's "The Follow". I've only seen one of his movies, Chungking Express, but I was very impressed with it. It still hangs in my memory.

Seeing this short movie, I find myself recalling that one, and making a note to myself to see more of his work. Several of them are supposed to be quite good, such as Days of Being Wild, Ashes of Time and In the Mood for Love. Since the latter has Maggie Cheung in it, and I've seen her as a young actor in Jackie Chan's films, and reviews say she has grown tremendously as an actor, I'll probably start there.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:25 PM

Time Keeps On Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'

Friday morning we drove to the airport and dropped Jean off for her flight. She was to fly to Michigan for her father's 70th birthday celebration. I then drove back to Tualatin, and dropped Kelly off at Bridgeport, so that she could go on a 'field day', which is apparently not the same as a field trip. We got there just in time: I knocked on her classroom door as it was opening, and saw a long line of kids snaking around her classroom, preparing for departure.

At that point, I looked at the clock and saw that factoring in driving time, I'd have about one hour at work before I had to go shuttle Kelly to Kid Connection. So I called in and told them I was taking the morning off. Then I called Verizon about the unstable service and they said they'd be sending a technician out sometime between "now and 7pm." Guh! Right about then, Jean walked in the door!

It turns out that we'd actually gotten there just a tad too late, and they'd given her seat away. Alternate flights were not going to get her there in time for the celebration, so she came home. I stayed home for the morning, cleaning the den in preparation for our technician visit. Then I went to work and Jean took over the vigil. The rest of the story on DSL is in my previous message.

On the whole, Jean feels bad about missing her Dad's 70th, but he seemed okay with it. Kelly and I are thrilled we didn't have to go without Jean for the weekend.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:01 PM

DSL Go Go Go!

DSL service was rocky initially. The Verizon folks sent out a technician, and Jean tells me he was here for an hour or two. Seems our house alarm was fighting with the DSL stuff, but now they are playing nice. And my den computer has a nice new double-phone jack.

End result: 130 to 158KB/sec. download speeds. I've been using it to visit BMW Films and some digital fansubbed anime. I downloaded Boys Be (six episodes), Comic Party (one episode), GeneShaft (one episode), and Hunter X Hunter (six episodes). My laptop hard disk is getting filled up fast. Of course, once I've watched them, I'll delete them, reclaiming my space.

So once again I've found a way to totally waste all my 'copious' spare time...

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:29 PM

June 07, 2001

I Mean Jeez, People!

And why didn't somebody tell me that Trent Reznor did the music for Quake? Then I'd have known he was cool!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:56 PM

Fry's Surprise

I stopped by Fry's today to get a DSL router and decided to look (rather hopelessly) for Modest Mouse albums in their CD racks. Surprise of surprises, I found four! But they didn't have Lonesome Crowded West, so I settled for Building Nothing Out Of Something. First listen sounds pretty good, but I think I'm still gonna track down Lonesome Crowded West.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:37 PM

The Diamond Age

Last night I came home to find the 'data' light on my spanky new DSL modem a steady green. Sure enough, I am able to connect to the Internet now using DHCP via ethernet. Top speed seems to be about 50KB/sec, which works out to 3MB a minute. Since I'm signed up for Enhanced Bronze+, which has a top speed of 1.5Mb/sec, or 150KB/sec, I'm only getting about a third of the top bandwidth. I'll be following up on that over time. If they can't get me more, no sense in paying for more, right?

So I was monkeying around with it last night, fired up Napster and did some random grazing. I downloaded a couple of Trent Reznor songs, Reaction and Aftermath (Quake Theme). These are a lot different from Closer, one of his Nine Inch Nails albums, and you can understand why my friend Tom is annoyed with the MTV production values, if he prefers the two songs I downloaded. [by the way, Tom, I like 'em too].

Guess I'll have to ask Tom which NIN albums he likes...

I also downloaded Yello's "Oh Yeah", which I owned on vinyl, and Tuxedomoon's What Use, again from my vinyl collection.

One of the fun features of Napster is the ability to look at what else a user has online, once you start downloading something from them. This is how I found Modest Mouse, a band from Olympia, WA. I am definitely going to buy an album from them, probably The Lonesome Crowded West. Take that, RIAA!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

June 05, 2001

Sunday Driving

Sunday just flew. Jean's had an annoying flaw in her new Honda Civic, in that the radio, equipped with security features, often loses power, and she has to punch in the security code to get it to work again. Not to mention resetting the clock every time. The Honda dealers admitted it was a known problem, and that they were expecting a fix soon. This weekend was it.

We drove up to Beaverton Honda and dropped Jean's car off. Then (using my car) we went shopping. Jean wanted to find some chocolate turtles to give to Kelly's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wentzell. Apparently, Mrs. W. likes turtles, and Kelly had already painted a ceramic turtle at a craft store which fires the dishes, cups, pots and chachkas that you paint, fixing the glaze for a small fee. Turtles were not to be found, so we moved on to the Beaverton Mall, where we visited Tower Records. Kelly wanted Del Shannon's Runaway, and ended up getting two Fifties compilation discs. Jean bought some Bix Biederbeck, and I bought Do The Collapse by Guided By Voices. The linked review calls this GBV's most mainstream album, which seems to be my fate. When I finally checked out Radiohead, it was with Kid A, their most mainstream album to date. It makes sense when you consider that I'm not really that plugged in to the musical trends anymore, so I'll only really hear about a band after they 'make it'.

Once I made my CD purchase, I moved quickly to Game Trader, a used videogame store. I just decided to stock up, and I've got enough games to fill the RPG corner of my console-playing hobby for a year. What'd I get? These:

Okay, in some the RPG element is pretty weak, for instance Resident Evil is little more than a Zombie Shooter(tm) game. But they should provide a few hours of amusement.

After the shopping spree, we went home for a little while, then finally got to Juan Colorado for lunch. This is a local Mexican restaurant in Tualatin, and it's very nice. They have an open-air balcony where the majority of their tables are, and we sat there, looking out over Tualatin toward the skate park. The food was good, though Kelly was disappointed that they didn't have black olives.

Those are the highlights. We went back into Beaverton and got Jean's car, then it was home to do those chores. That's all folks!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:35 AM

Geek Pilgrimage

Saturday was my NOVA meeting, and the usual suspects were there. But for a change of pace, instead of going off to get something to eat during the meeting, we gave in to our geek natures, and five of us, Alan, Tom, James, Chris and me, piled into a car and drove from Tigard down to Wilsonville, to visit Fry's Electronics Superstore [ECHO, Echo, echo!].

Tom wanted to look at stereo hardware. He resisted the temptation to buy gleaming metal, but ended up buying a bunch of anime DVDs. Alan bought an upgrade for his Adobe Premiere software. I don't think Chris or James ended up buying anything. I bought a copy of Final Fantasy VII, since it's been sitting on the Playstation game racks at $13.95 for the last two times I've visited, and I couldn't stand it anymore .

I haven't done more than stumble through the first few minutes of the game without reading any manuals or having played any of the previous games (Kelly was very helpful there, cheering my fumbling attempts to squash bad guys with magic while getting overwhelmed with strange menus and such). But I've come to realize that the game must tell you how much time it takes to complete it. Why? Because everybody I've ever met who played it tells me to the hour how long it took them. "I played FF7 over the weekend and it took me 40 hours to finish." Not, "it took a whole weekend", not "it took a long time", but "it took me 40 hours."

This was reinforced after the meeting when I went with the crowd to Carrow's to have a late night snack. After eating, I was paying my bill and telling Alan that it was probably too late to break open the game and play with it. The waitress at the register said "you're playing Final Fantasy VII?"

I was kind of embarrassed, since the game's been out for some time (VIII and IX are out, X is coming soon and XI is in planning). "Yeah, I just bought a PS2 and I'm getting back into games after a few years..."

"I played FF7, and it took me 56 hours!"

"Really? At the rate I'll be playing, I'll take six months to finish."

"That's how long it took me!"

Suddenly I didn't feel so embarrassed .

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:54 AM

Smile...

Yesterday was actually busier than I expected, so here's Saturday's news...

Kelly and I were at home while Jean was running errands. Kelly surprised me by turning off the television herself! But I was eating lunch, so I kept reading my book as she played quietly by herself. After a little while, she left the room, nothing extraordinary in that.

Time passed, and Kelly came back into the living room. I saw her approaching in the periphery of my vision. "Daddy?" I turned around. In a rather loose circle around her lips was a ring of lipstick. There were signs that she'd actually tried to apply it carefully, but no such luck. "Am I beautiful?"

Speaking directly to the question, I replied "of course you are. Your lipstick is a little smeared, let me help touch it up..."

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 AM

June 04, 2001

QOTD

"It's almost impossible never to get hacked, it's what you do once that happens that counts."

Rafe Colburn

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:09 AM

Invisible Lossage

I was pondering the outage of Agora over the weekend just now, and realized that I didn't even notice it until late Sunday, I was that busy off the 'net. I can't really enumerate everything that took place, but there were the usual chores, and additional errands I'll talk about in a later post.

I just wanted to note that I don't always come home from sitting in front of a computer all day and immediately log onto my home account .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:26 AM

Agora Down

Agora, the host for this site, was down part of the weekend, due to being hacked by the infamous disgruntled Chinese hackers. I would have sworn we were too low profile to attract their attention, but I guess when you've got a billion people, no web site is too small .

Anyway, Alan expired everybody's password for security, forcing me to change my password for the first time in three years. Gah! And now I know why I don't do it more often. Resetting the password in Eudora (email) on two machines, in the Airport hub (wireless networking and dial-up), in the Free-PPP software, and on and on. It sucketh greatly.

So now Terebi II is back on the air, and I'll try to post a few catch-up articles during the longer compiles today. Take care all!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 AM

May 28, 2001

Holiday Activities

We didn't have much planned for today. I went down to Mentor and did strength training. We were planning on going to Juan Colorado for lunch, but Jean seems to be coming down with the same ailment which attacked Kelly yesterday. Kelly's fine today, so we're hoping Jean recovers as quickly.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:18 PM

Word of the Day

Hiatus. More daughter-inspired nonsense.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

Ginnungagap

I didn't feel like hunting up appropriate links for Memorial Day (it's being hyped by Hollywood enough this year as it is), so in honor of my daughter's lost tooth, here's a pointer to a relevant tidbit of Norse Mythology.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:53 AM

May 27, 2001

Rent This Space

In the banner for this weblog, you'll now find an image of Kelly, displaying her first ever missing tooth. Click on it for a larger version.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:38 PM

Crazy Taxi

As I foretold in an earlier post, I bought a copy of Crazy Taxi recently, and I've been playing it sporadically. It is a real hoot, and I'd recommend it to anyone with an anarchistic streak in them. If only my reflexes were snappier, I could do some real damage!

Since I think I'm going to have to wait for quite a while to get Black & White on the PS2, I'm gonna have to start looking for other games where the emphasis is on planning, as opposed to reflexes. Maybe I'll pick up one of the Final Fantasy games?

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:09 PM

QOTD

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

Winston Churchill

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:46 PM

Shoe Thing

I got my Wissota Trader Walkabouts this Friday, and wore them all day Saturday and today. They seem to fit well enough, so I'll keep them, but I'm already pining for a new pair of Nikes. My feet just got used to that ultra-stable feeling that comes from wearing running shoes all the time. At least I know I can get by in Italy without being mistaken for a German. Sorry, German folks, no offense intended.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:38 PM

Ever the Critic

Yesterday we took Kelly down to the Wilsonville Cinemas to meet with her friend Ashley. The date was to see Shrek. Maybe ten minutes into the show, as a dragon was stomping about, Kelly told me she wanted to go home. "Right now."

Well, I assumed this was about the scary dragon, so I assured her it turned out friendly later on, and went into the lobby with her. We sat for awhile, then we went back in. Time passed, and suddenly Kelly declared "Daddy, I think I'm going to throw up!"

Jean jumped up with her and took her into the lobby. It turns out she didn't make it to the restroom initially, and threw up on the carpet. Then she made it to the restroom and had another hurl. We apologized to Ashley and her grandma and took Kelly home.

After an early bath, Kelly nested the rest of the day, and went to bed feeling a little out of sorts. Our best guess is that the 'fresh' chicken tortellini she had for lunch wasn't so fresh. Jean had tasted it and reported feeling a little queasy later that day, though that may be the power of suggestion.

Now it's Sunday, and Kelly seems fine, to the point of being obnoxious .

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:30 PM

May 25, 2001

Aukusti?

Found a link today to the Ellis Island archives. For chuckles I typed in 'wakevainen' (my original family name) and found:

   Aukusti Wakevainen

Apparently came here from Wupuri, Finland in 1913 at the age of 24, via Liverpool, on the Cedric. Wonder if he's related?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:56 AM

What Goes Around

A while ago, one of our neighbors were visited by a friend of theirs who drove a huge mobile home. In parking, he knocked over the tree in front of our property. Our neighbors were very apologetic and offered to help cut it up, and help us buy and plant a new one.

We got some estimates on adult trees, and the neighbors began hemming and hawing. They suggested that our tree should not have been extending over the street, even though it was well over ten feet above the ground. We gave a disgusted sigh and bought a sapling instead. When I called the neighbor, he told me it was between me and his friend. I called his friend and he said he was thinking of suing for damages to his vehicle. According to the city official we talked to (and the police officer who took the original damage report), we were in the right, but it would be a huge hassle to take these guys to court over damages.

At this point I decided that my karma didn't need the hassle, so we paid for the tree, planted it, and never spoke to these losers again. So our tree is growing slowly, and so far survives the onslaught of the incompetent contractors passing through our neighborhood burying phone lines.

But here's where the karma really kicks in. Our neighbors' tree was knocked down by the contractor bozos! Sometimes life is good .

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

May 24, 2001

We're Professionals, Ma'am

Yesterday Jean was trying to study for her midterm. Trying, because she was getting interrupted every thirty seconds. One of Kelly's friends is Ashley, and her aunt was trying to set up a play date at the park. Outside, the sidewalk was getting torn up by contractors laying new phone lines (all utilities are buried in our neighborhood).

So she came home from running errands to find several trucks parked haphazardly around our street, workmen standing around, and a guy reading them the riot act. It seems this gentleman was named Mike Darby, an engineer for the City of Tualatin. People all up and down our street have apparently been calling the city to complain about these workers.

I forget the name of the outfit these yoyos work for. They are contractors, not directly employed by Verizon (the phone company). So far they've torn up sidewalk without giving any indication when (or if) they'll be replacing it, chipped property retainer walls with their tractors (ours included), flooded the basement of a house on the corner with sewage by rupturning their pipes, the list goes on.

They apparently nicked our sewage line as well, but claimed that they didn't actually break it. Mr. Darby forced them to call in a professional plumber to fix it (they had tried to fix it themselves using caulk). He's going to inspect it and make them pay for it. Same for the damaged stones on our front property wall. I'm guessing these contractors are going to be out of jobs after Verizon gets through covering all the damage they've done.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 AM

Milestone

Kelly lost her first tooth! I've seen something like three of her friends lose their first teeth recently, and it's always the same tooth! Just to the left of center, bottom tooth. What gives?!?! Anyway, I'll try to take a snapshot and post it soon.

Jean and I have a conference tonight to decide how much a tooth goes for nowadays (and does the first tooth go for a higher price, or what?).

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:43 AM

May 21, 2001

Weekend Movies

One last entry today while I digest my salad . Saturday was a NOVA weekend, and I got a chance to see the Region 2 DVD I had bought, Wild Zero. This thanks to Dan, who has a Multi-region DVD player, and could record a tape of it for me.

This is one weird movie, somewhat reminiscent of Bio-Zombie. You have to have a pretty twisted sense of humor, as I do, and a tolerance for somewhat cartoony gore, but I was cracking up all through the show. All I can say is rock-and-roll, shades of Elvis and U.F.O. zombies go together all too well.

After the meeting, we went to see Shrek. Compared to The Emperor's New Groove, which deserves a 10, this movie was a 7 or an 8 (Tom says 6 or 7). I'm going to take Kelly to see it next weekend, I think.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:23 PM

Music To My Ears

My office has been without music for a couple of weeks. Ever since the sysadmins installed my new Linux box, neglecting to compile sound support into the kernel. Curse them!

So while I was at Fry's this morning, I picked up a power converter, a.c. -> 4.5 volt d.c. I hooked it up to my little Panasonic portable CD player, then hooked that up to my Benwin 2000 flat-panel speakers (which even include a small subwoofer). The volume was set up for the output of the Linux box, so I kinda blasted the hallway on the first experiment (sorry Carsten!) but things are working fine now. I didn't realize how much I missed the music.

So what's playing? Why Moshi Moshi of course. Now that I can play it in the background at work, maybe I'll get around to writing those reviews sometime soon...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:11 PM

Games, Games, Games

I really should try to read the manual once in awhile. Jean was getting higher in levels on Bust a Groove 2, but annoyingly couldn't save. So she was forced to play from the beginning each time to get to the level she last left off at. I tinkered and tried to save a game for her, but the PS2 kept reporting 'no memory card in slot 1', which is incorrect, as there is a PS2 memory card sitting right there!

A brief perusal of the PS2 manual, followed by a chat with my friend Alan Matzka at NOVA this weekend, confirmed that I need a PSX memory card to save PS One games. I need to swap it in and out with the PS2 memory card according to which type of game I'm playing. So I swung by Fry's on the way to work and picked up one. We'll see if it works as advertised.

Since I got in late today due to the periodontal visit, I may call it a half-day and leave early so I can go to Toys'r'Us and pick up a copy of the PS2 port of Crazy Taxi. Ya gotta love a game which lets you run rampant over the streets of San Francisco!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:55 AM

False Alarm

I saw Dr. Levin this morning, to have him double-check the left-lower graft, since Dr. Kierkegaarde was unsure if it was 'okay'. I don't mind telling you that I was a bit depressed about the possibility of having to redo the damn thing. Anyway, Dr. Levin's diagnosis:

Everything is fine. He told me "the best complement I can get is if a dentist can't tell I've done the work." The other side is fairly obvious, but he was trying to compensate for two teeth. The left blends so well it is not apparent there was ever surgery there. So I'm happy once again.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:46 AM

R.I.P. EOD

Just as I took the trouble to add An Entirely Other Day to my links sidebar, he decides to go and get a life. Doh! Too bad, as I've enjoyed reading Greg Knauss' daily observations about the oddities of life and family.

On a much less disturbing note, Dack.com is also shutting down. Is the weblog 'craze' dying out?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:36 AM

May 19, 2001

Draught Horse Exhibition

We spent a few hours at the Washington County Draught Horse Exhibition today. It was located at the Rock Creek campus of Portland Community College. In addition to teams of huge horses, the likes of Percherons, there were also historical displays, craftspeople and food stalls.

My favorites were the blacksmiths, the antique two and four-stroke (and steam) workhorse engines (hauled around the farm to supply horsepower for tasks as diverse as grinding grain and sawing lumber), and the spinning wheel and loom. Each of the latter two were modern lightweight wooden renditions of their colonial counterparts. The friction clutch on the spinning wheel was ingenious.

Kelly helped pick out a pattern for a charity quilt, made a card using tatted flowers and ate snowcones and cotton candy. Jean said her favorites were the period clothing on display in the museum. There was also a bit of bluegrass music, and we rode in a wagon pulled by two Percherons. Lots of fun.

I just finished eating lunch, made with Sauce Mayonnaise, which I made successfully in our new blender. The first time I tried to make it in a blender it was more sauce than mayonnaise. Of course, I was recreating the recipe from memory, and my memory was very bad. Following the written one worked like a charm.

Once I finish this entry, I'll get cleaned up and ready for NOVA. I'm pretty sure that we'll be seeing Shrek afterwards, so it'll be a late night.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:26 PM

May 15, 2001

Don't Walk Like a German

Today I towed Kelly from Bridgeport to Kid Connection, then swung by Fred Meyer on the way back to work. My mission: talk to the cobbler about shoe sizes. I needed to find out because I'm trying to buy shoes off the Internet, and don't want to guess at the size. I am buying shoes off the Internet because there is this one company which has a rep as a great company for orthotically sound shoes. They claim to have the widest range of shoe sizes and shapes of any shoe company.

So why bother? I've been buying running shoes for my everyday walking shoes for several years now, ever since my chiropractor pointed out that I pronate like crazy and need very stable shoes. So why stop now? Because Jean wants to go to Italy. Jean's sister, who has lived in Italy twice, says that Italians hate Germans. Germans, she says, wear running shoes. Ipso facto, you want good service as a tourist, don't walk like a German.

So I'm looking for some nice Italian-looking shoes which nevertheless provide great stability. Mr. Cobbler tells me I'm a 12 1/2 C. I go to Wissota Trader and look up this size, and find that their sizes run 10 1/2, 11, 11 1/2, 12, 13, 14! So I'm gonna order a pair of 12 C Walkabouts. Whattaya think? The 'Quick Grip' feature too geeky?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 PM

Uber-geek Humor

Jean dissected a sheep brain today! Imagine getting this message on your answering machine: "I dissected a sheep brain today! It was fun!" She's taking a biology course, and this was her lab work. So tonight before I put her to bed we were talking about that, and other biology stuff, when the subject of how bones grow came up.

I mentioned that I'd seen an animation of some 'scrubbing-bubbles' sort of blood cell eating up old bone, and new bone growing in it's place. Jean said, "osteoclasts break down bone, and osteoblasts build them back up." Without missing a beat, I blurted out H. R. Osteoclast'n'Blast and started to giggle.

Jean said "that isn't even funny." Of course I started to laugh uncontrollably. "It is to me!"

Jean told me that 'over the years' she's come to realize that this sort of severely retarded humor of mine pops up whenever I'm under a lot of stress and that it is a signal trait of uber-geeks. I guess so, 'cause I'm cracking up right now!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 PM

Blue Tuesday

Yesterday my boss said his boss was backing off from his edict to kill our six-month project, but we had to 'sell' him on it. So instead of working on moving forward, I spent half of today putting together an engineering presentation (a sales brochure, actually). Hopefully my coworker and I will complete it tomorrow. Still dunno if our work is in the tank or not.

As if that wasn't enough, I had my dental visit today, and my dentist, Dr. Kierkegaarde, says she doesn't feel 100% certain that the second periodontal surgery took. So now I have to call Dr. Levin to set up another check-up visit. Fingers crossed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 PM

May 13, 2001

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was just another Sunday at the Wakefield abode. I've turned the second Sunday of the month into the 'clean the tar out of the bathrooms' day, and generally do the kitchen the same way. This time I did the basement bathroom too, since Monday both of the main floor bathrooms will probably be out of commission, due to Greg Larson and crew installing new linoleum over the next couple of days. Then comes the repairs to the wooden fence...

Anyway, I'm trying to do extra housework to assist Jean as she takes more classes. Kelly broke out her Mom's day gifts, which were a homemade card and 'sponge stamp', and two pairs of earrings she bought last week with me. I managed to steer her away from the fist-sized pewter peacock earrings and toward a more petite pearl cluster, so that turned out okay.

We went down to Mentor after that to exercise, and I took my bike! Mein Gott! That was fine. I tooled all around the industrial park, around Mentor's and Xerox's campuses, across dirt trails, for about 45 minutes. I turned off Parkway onto the Xerox campus and nearly ran into a Guinea Hen, who was fluffing up, spreading her wings and making a general fuss. Stopped just in time and cut across the lawn to give her her space.

Reeling back a bit, Saturday was a play date between Kelly and her friend Ashley, at Bullwinkle's, a sorta Chucky Cheese kid's entertainment arcade and restaurant. They've got a dedicated play area kind of like McDonald's Playland where they hung out a lot. Me, I gotta go ride that roller-coaster simulator sometime.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:15 PM

Best Futurama Line of the Week

The setup: Fry has 'downloaded' a Lucy Liu robot off the Internet. He is totally smitten, and the robot is programmed to like him. He says "you're cute." She says, "no you!" Then they just ping pong back and forth, you're-cute-no-you, at which point Professor Farnsworth observes:

"Oh dear! She's locked in an infinite loop, and he's an idiot!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 PM

May 12, 2001

Minion Soup

Checking out at the grocery store, Jean was having a grand conversation with the clerk, whom she speaks with just about every time. As we were leaving in the car, Jean said "I like knowing the clerks. It's nice to be able to talk with them."

I replied quite seriously "I prefer to deal with faceless minions."

Kelly piped up from the back seat "you mean onion, Daddy."

The ensuing conversation about faceless onions (including Mojo Jojo for those of you who have Cartoon Network) is left as an exercise for the reader.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:42 AM

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Shopping for groceries today, we were accosted by a Starbuck's employee giving away a free latte. I had an attack of surrealism as she recited the name: raspberry mocha chip frappucino. How many more syllables are needed before people realize how silly this whole fancy coffee trend is?

P.S. - I took a tiny sip when Jean had had enough, and it was foul! The taste was in my mouth for several minutes. Yuck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:34 AM

Internet Dweeb Alert

I know I'm a geek (from the technology branch of the tree). But I realized today just how deep that runs. I was searching Google and saw the banner at the top of the page, and said to myself "oh yeah, tomorrow's Mother's Day." It was then that I realized that except for the truly major holidays, I usually have my first inkling of an upcoming holiday when I see the special graphic in the Google banner. Urgh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:27 AM

The Law of Unintended Consequences

In celebration of having six months of work trashed, and being urged to work hard and quickly, I took yesterday off. This time it actually worked out as vacation time. I slept in (to 7:30!), noodled on the Internet, then went for a walk around Tualatin with Jean. Afterwards I went down to Mentor to do strength training in the gym, good for my back.

By the time I got home, it was lunch time, but I ended up skipping lunch, so I could go to see The Tailor of Panama. I knew next to nothing about the movie, but had read the novel by John LeCarre, and liked it, so I decided to take the chance. I was wary because the novel is a somewhat cerebral, downbeat farce of spy stories, and the movie stars Pierce Brosnan of 007 fame. But not to worry. He plays the nasty spy Andy Osnard, and not the eponymous Tailor. That role goes to one of my very favorite actors, Geoffrey Rush. And he pulls it off admirably.

After the movie I came home to an empty house, so I decided to plow through a few episodes of The Legend of Black Heaven, an idiosyncratic anime which will be the topic of my next review. I got through the first four, and will probably take the rest of the week to get through the final three and write my review. I seem to work best under pressure, even if it is of my own making .

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:20 AM

May 10, 2001

P. S.

To be fair, the PHB is doing some good things too, such as mending the relationships with another division which have been broken for a couple of years. So far, the bad experience is isolated, and I hope it stays that way.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 AM

Suck It Up

For the past six months, myself and two other engineers at work have been working on a standalone product (it's more complicated than that, but 'standalone' fits the usage), implemented with a library and language we selected after arduous research. We were quite proud of the work we'd done, and eager to show it off and promote it within our division. Really only a couple of weeks work remained to finalize it.

Then two days ago news arrived that my boss' boss had heard of the technology we were using, and had, for want of a better word, an emotional response. My boss cautions me that rational discussion is not an option. So while the product is not cancelled, all our work has to be thrown out and we must start over, because this PHB overrode engineering decisions on the basis of some emotional problem.

To add insult to injury, the PHB held a project review yesterday, and his closing remarks were to urge us to work hard and quickly to beat the competition. It took all my restraint to avoid saying "except for the occasional six month irrational reschedule from above."

I know it is probably not wise to publish this, but since my weblog is really only read by my sister and a couple of friends, I thought I'd blow off steam. I'm mostly over the anger and astonishment. While the disgust and bitterness linger, I'm ready to suck it up and try implementing this thing in the PHB's platform-of-choice. Sometimes life is stupid.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:35 AM

May 09, 2001

Colors of Imperial Russia

This is just fascinating. Several weblogs have been pointing to an online exhibition of the photography of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, who used a unique camera with three lenses and red, green and blue filters to create 'color' photographs using only black and white film. He then used a corresponding projector to show them when touring.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:23 PM

Folkloric Phrase of the Day

Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs. This link is actually a very good disquisition on the phrase.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:32 PM

May 08, 2001

Anime Music Videos

Anime Music Videos are one of those instances of cultural fusion which result when two popular cultures collide. Briefly, a fan of Japanese animated programs will select a song, often American, and one or more anime. He or she will then edit the video sequences such that the overlaid music will meld with the images to produce a new work of art. Objectives may be humor, the invocation of a particular emotion (wistful sadness seems popular) or even just technical razzle-dazzle.

Over the years I've seen a lot of these 'AMV's, and not through any effort of my own. But if you go to conventions, or attend a club, you will eventually see many of them.. While I've seen a few which I really appreciated, I've mostly found the art form unimpressive. It is a way for fans to participate in the genre without taking the particularly difficult route of becoming an animator (difficult more due to poor pay than skills required, though those are there as well).

This weekend's NOVA meeting introduced me to two more examples. Three members of our club have been creating AMV's using fairly expensive setups--laptop computers, iMovie or Premiere, AfterEffects, totalling in the thousands of dollars. I won't discuss the actual contents of either of these videos, as they'll both most likely be submitted in the Anime Expo 2001 AMV contest. Sure, very few people read this weblog, but I want to respect the authors by embargoing the actual works until after the Con.

But I will name names, keeping to first names only. Terry and Dan have put together a traditional AMV, albeit with high-end home equipment. It is a fine example of the genre, demonstrating flawless techical virtuosity and capturing a mood extremely well. But. It is of the genre, rather than above the genre. It could very well win an award at Expo, as a superior example of a typical AMV. And that's all.

Eric, who's about as self-effacing as anybody I've ever met, is also using high-end home equipment to create his AMV. The difference is that it does more than most AMVs. It tells an original story, seemlessly blending scenes from two anime series such that what we have is a new show. The choice of music is perfect, the blending of scenes is wildly creative and the video effects only serve to move forward the story and the mood, which is anarchy! Once I saw it I knew I would do everything within my power to be there in the audience at Expo when this video had its premiere. I wanna see the applause, and maybe the standing ovation. The folks sitting on the throne of AMV producer had better feel nervous.

Asked how long it took him, Eric replied in his halting quiet voice, "about two months. That's two hours every night and ten hours a day on weekends." By my estimates that's over 200 hours of work that went into this 5 minute AMV! It's possible to fritter away that effort and produce crap, but it makes it easier to grasp the quality inherent in this video. I plan to ask Eric if I can 'interview' him and include his AMV in a review of AMV's post-Expo. Hopefully Terry and Dan will agree as well.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:50 PM

Parable of the Soccer Moms

At least, that's what the title will be when I get around to writing my excoriating diatribe against SUV-driving losers who use the bus circle as their own personal helipad to drop off their genetic mishaps.

You get some perspective. I'm bitter.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:58 PM

May 05, 2001

Play Date!

Charlotte is here. Kelly is playing with her, remarkably well, considering that when she is playing with her friend Trinity, there is usually more than one argument. Charlotte's parents have two daughters, but about seven months ago dropped out of sight. We thought we'd somehow offended them (well Jean did). It turns out that they'd had twin boys, and been totally swamped. So Charlotte's mom, Tara, dropped her off at 11am, and said, "how's 2:30 for a pick-up?" I'm sure she would have said 7pm if she thought she could get away with it .

When the visit is over, since Jean needs to get some studying done before I go to my NOVA meeting, I'm going to rope Kelly into coming with me to pick up my bike from Performance Bike. I'm taking coupons from my original purchase with me, so I can buy a floor pump. That hand pump is a pain to use to keep the tires inflated. Maybe I'll buy some shorts while I'm there.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:37 PM

Cooking School

Well, I might have to buy a blender. I tried out the Sauce Mayonnaise recipe today. I had all the ingredients described below, but instead of a blender, I had an old food processor. The only blade I could find was not a mixing blade, but a chopping one. So I was running the thing on high, tipping it to the side to try to get the eggs and oil to mix up and hit the upper cutting blade. After running through the entire recipe, I put it into a plastic container and placed it into the freezer for 15 minutes.

When it came out, it was not runny at all, which I had feared. It had a nice light whipped body to it. I took a spoon and tasted it. Man, that was pretty strong. The cayenne was probably the most overpowering component of it. So I made a sandwich with a garden burger and spread some on that. Blended with the flavors of the sandwich it was a lot more interesting. How's that? Homemade chef-style Mayonnaise and a veggie burger sandwich .

Since the source of this article was an interview with a recording engineer who is also a gourmet, who lamented that anyone would use supermarket mayonnaise when this simple recipe is the first thing a chef student must learn, I think the combination is pretty funny.

So I'll try it tomorrow as a dipping sauce for some fish. If that works well, I'll tell Jean I want a blender for my birthday!

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:26 PM

May 04, 2001

Busy Day

My 'day off' was quite busy, despite feeling under the weather. I took my bike to Performance Bike after dropping Kelly off at Bridgeport. I was bummed that they couldn't do the tune-up on the spot. I have to go back tomorrow to pick it up. It's just as well. I had dreams of riding it today, but I didn't feel well enough.

I followed up by doing the grocery shopping as well. Big bill, this time! I also did dishes and laundry. After lunch (grocery store sushi, mmmm!) I went to take in a movie, so I did do something for myself. I saw One Night At McCool's, which was actually worse than I thought it would be, but not aweful. I just wanted to do something vacation-y so badly that I was willing to put up with a bad movie, and this was the only movie which would finish in time for me to get home and help with Kelly. Sad, huh?

When I got home, I decided to wash my car, and Kelly helped. She actually worked pretty hard. I'm going to give her a 50 cent tip on her allowance this weekend. Evening saw Kelly and I playing her own unique variation on Trivial Pursuit, which mainly involved putting pie wedges all over the board and throwing the die. Then the usual chores (baths and toothbrushing), and now I'm the only one up. Not for long. Gotta kill this bug

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:20 PM

Tres De Mayo

Mentor held it's annual Cinco De Mayo celebration yesterday. Yes, on May 3rd. I don't know why. It's true that May 5th is on this Saturday, but at least you'd think they would have held it on Friday. But onward... In the past, they've had games for the kids, Mexican music, pony rides, a petting zoo and food. In previous years, all but the petting zoo and the pony rides have been inside. This year it was all outside.

Jean brought Kelly down around 4pm, and went back to PCC to take an exam. Kelly and I stayed at Mentor to enjoy the celebration. Kelly got to see several of her old classmates from the on-campus daycare, including Charlotte, whom she'll be having a playdate with this Saturday, and Courtney, whom she wants to invite to her birthday party.

We stayed until about 6pm, during which time Kelly played all the games twice, procuring a heavy load of loot, most of which I got to carry. We came home, and I was so sticky from standing out in the sun that I took a shower before she had her bath.

This morning I woke up with an aching neck and a headache. I decided that I'd had too much sun the previous day, since I'm fair skinned and usually take the trouble to apply sunblock when I know I'm going to be outside any length of time. But I didn't really realize that Mentor was going to have the whole celebration outside, so I was unprepared.

I spent the better half of the day feeling crummy, even snapping at Jean when she asked me the same question about five times (I apologized later). Finally around 2:30pm I gave up and took some Alleve. By 4pm I was feeling okay. Now I find out that kids at Kelly's school have been going home sick with aching muscles and headaches. So my little disease vector strikes again. I only hope I feel well enough to go to NOVA tomorrow night. After all, I only get to go twice a month!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 PM

May 03, 2001

Friday Off

I'm so excited! I'm finally getting off my duff and taking my bike in to the store to get the cables adjusted and the chains inspected/cleaned! I'm taking all of tomorrow off, so I can go for a long ride and run a few errands afterwards. 'Course, the mechanic may call in sick, but with luck...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:15 PM

May 02, 2001

Sauce Mayonnaise

Boy are there a lot of recipes for this. Most of them are on foreign websites, but you can use the Google link that follows to have them translated ... Steve Albini's recipe for Sauce Mayonnaise via Gourmandizer

Here is a recipe anyone can use to make a wonderful Sauce Mayonnaise:

Into a stationary blender, crack one egg. Add an extra egg yolk, one garlic clove, a strong quarter teaspoon of cayenne (or a teaspoon of white pepper ground very fine) and either a slight teaspoon of salt or a tablespoon of Tamari soy sauce.

Blend at high speed until the garlic is finely divided and the egg begins to froth. With the blender still running, trickle in good olive oil until the mayonnaise thickens and will accept no more oil. (this will vary, but will usually be about a cup.)

Stop the blender and add a tablespoon of good vinegar OR the juice of half a lemon. Fold the mayonnaise once or twice with a spatula, which will loosen it considerably. Pulse the blender until the thick consistency returns.

Taste. If the mayonnaise tastes oily, add more acid (vinegar or lemon juice only. Never combine the two, as this makes for a weird bilious aftertaste).

Chill covered for at least 15 minutes. I often add a tablespoon of fresh or dried dill or thyme at the beginning of the process. Don't add the acid at the beginning, as this can prevent the eggs from emulsifying.

Ingredients:

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:39 PM

May 01, 2001

Do the Robot

It's been two days now, and I still can't get that image out of my head. The image of a giant robot (common in Japanese anime). The image of that robot dancing frenetically, jerking it's knees up to it's chest, slamming them down into the waters of a city harbor, against the night backdrop of artificially lit buildings. The image moving in concert to the sound of a frantic dancehouse ditty, while blasts of steam fire upward from the robot's head in time to the music. The robot's arms shoot out and akimbo, endangering the helicopter hovering nearby. In the helicopter, a tiny figure is visible through the open cargo door, dancing in competition with the robot.

Was it all a dream? No, it was Bust A Groove 2. Since I've bought the Playstation 2, I have been meaning to spend a block of time playing this game, but something else always seems to take priority. But Jean has not only been playing it, she's been making steady progress.

Jean is taking classes again, and as a reward she's 'allowing' herself to play Bust A Groove 2 for a half hour or so a night. It's funny, she's following the same learning curve with this game that she used to follow with games on the Super Nintendo, such as Donkey Kong Country. Initially she'll get whooped at every turn, and she carps endlessly about how the game is 'cheating', and not recognizing her moves. Then she makes a little progress and the complaints slacken. Finally, she puts her head down and masters the game.

The same thing seems to be happening here. A couple of nights ago she got so far up the game ladder that one of the 'hidden characters', Robo Z Gold, was revealed. Man did that flip me. It flipped Jean too, as she got her butt kicked in that round. A brief search of the Internet reveals that there are more of these surprise characters in store too. Since I don't have to play to see them now, I think I'll enjoy it!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:16 PM

April 30, 2001

Fleecing Las Vegas

I found this article on Gammatron. Since I didn't even gamble while I was there, I found this other way to not gamble interesting as well.

Logged here so I can find this article and read at leisure later...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:08 PM

Word of the Day

My word of the day was Dictionary.com's word of the day on February 19, 2001. Lacuna is a fun word, but especially the plural, lacunae. I knew the word already, but saw it today while reading an editorial by Maureen Dowd:

[George W. Bush's] White House reminds me of the 1937 movie "Damsel in Distress," in which Fred Astaire has to frantically pirouette around Joan Fontaine to make up for the fact that she cannot dance.

Bush officials are always frantically pirouetting around W., making up for his stumbles and lacunae.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 AM

April 28, 2001

House of Pain

For the last several days I've been coping with back pain. It's the kind that travels. I take hot baths and do stretching exercises to help the muscles loosen up, and I seem to be getting better, but then a different part of my back starts hurting. Usually this means that the spine is wacky and I need to visit the chiropractor. I'll hold off a couple more days, since I think (once again) that I'm over the worst of it.

Jean, not to be outdone, has gotten a headache. It may actually be a migraine. She's downstairs, studying and nursing her head, as I sit here typing and Kelly watches Cartoon Network. I know I watched a lot of cartoons when I was a kid, but Kelly gets 'em running hot and cold.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:56 PM

Tile Quest

Our quest for bathroom tiling continues. Actually, we are looking at linoleum samples. Both the hallway bathroom and the bathroom off our bedroom could use replacing, so we've been shopping around. Our contractor, Greg Larson, recommended Manninger as a quality brand, and we went to a flooring store a couple of weeks ago to check it out. But all their patterns were so boring and mainstream I just walked away.

Today, we went to a home improvement store, no dice. Then we went to another flooring store. I saw a sample for 'industrial' Congoleum which I really liked. I set it aside with our pile of samples and kept looking. Kelly was getting rambunctious, and not minding me at all, so I frogmarched her out of the store, and we waited by the car until Jean had signed out our samples.

When we got home we hauled the samples upstairs and tried them out on the bathroom floors. But the sample I had liked, a dark green marbled pattern, was nowhere to be found! It seems Jean had missed it when picking up our samples. Maybe I'm not meant to have a flooring which satisfies my esthetics.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:45 PM

Ebay Redux

The tripod was being auctioned by a guy in Oregon, so it got here just a couple of days after I won the bid. The other auction was actually the first I won, but the seller lives in Florida, so I have to wait a few days. Doesn't really matter, anyway, as I can't use it without the help of one of my friends. What is this mysterious item?

Wild Zero is a movie about a Japanese rockabilly band which one day finds itself forced into fighting zombies. The band is a real one, Guitar Wolf, and the plot is supposed to be corny as hell. While the DVD has subtitles in English, the disc is Region 2, meaning it won't play on my deck. Fortunately my friend Bob Cannard has a multi-region deck, so I'll be asking him to bring it to a NOVA meeting so I can show the movie there.

Ain't I screwy?

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:35 PM

E-Bay Booty

As if buying a Playstation 2 wasn't enough loot to drop at one time, I went and bid for two items on Ebay. And won! One has already arrived and I was playing with it last night: a Slik U8000 Camera Tripod. That's what enabled me to take a self-portrait at more than arm's length to create the current 'masthead' photo (that and an hour or so noodling with Photoshop).

More later. Gotta run errands now

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:46 PM

April 26, 2001

Crawling With Kids

The place is crawling with kids today, as my place of employment sponsors Take Your Child To Work Day. It would be more accurate to call it Take Your 8-14 Year Old To Work Day, since that was the age range. Can't imagine why they don't want a horde of five-year olds wandering around the campus .

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:21 PM

Master of My Domain

Just thought I'd post a short note to announce the launch of Terebi2.org! [ECHO!! Echo! echo...] .

I picked up the domain on a whim from Pairnic, then set up web forwarding and name services with EasyDNS. So now you can type terebi2.org in the location window of your browser and arrive here. I don't use stealth frames, so the actual URL ends up showing, but I don't really care about that. You can also send email, should you care, to anybody@terebi2.org. Try it, you'll like it. For instance, if you wanted to send email to my wife specifically, you'd use jean@terebi2.org. That's all, folks!

Postscript: Been trying for an hour or so to cross-post this info to Terebi I. The site is unreachable yet again. Guess I'm bailing at the right time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:49 AM

Filtering of Reason

While the title sounds like the treatise of a philosophical tract, it is in fact the result of machine translation of Développement d'applications avec Objective CAML from French to English. As you know, I've been studying OCaml, a functional language developed in France. This book is published by the French arm of O'Reilly and Associates, famed for their technical books. They placed the book online, but announced that they had no plans to translate it into English.

I however, wanted to read something other than the reference manual, and the book on CAML that I bought, The Functional Approach to Programming, covers a much earlier version of the language. So I had a brilliant idea, and decided to go to Google and find the book online. The reason is that Google is offering a beta version of their own machine translation service, similar to Babelfish, but with more output. Babelfish cuts off translation after 5Kb, while Google seems to give more than 20Kb.

So I tried it, and it works, and I'm reading the book. But there are of course majorly awkward translations of sentences, and sometimes charming ones. In many functional languages, there is support for selecting actions based on patterns of data. This facility is uniformly referred to as pattern matching. In the online book, they refer parenthetically to this term, but use their own French term (Filtrage de motif), which when translated, becomes the filtering of reason.

There is a volunteer effort underway to translate the online version of the book from French to English. Work is slow, since volunteers must be fluent in French and English and OCaml. I look forward to the final results, but I'm glad I didn't wait. If I had, I would never have encountered the filtering of reason.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM

April 20, 2001

Moshi Moshi

Perhaps while reading Terebi I you may recall that I was enchanted with a couple of songs which appear on an album called Moshi Moshi. I downloaded them off the net after reading a recommendation on Kottke.org, and listened them right into the ground.

I've been checking in Tower Record shops ever since, and when we were in Vegas, I had the opportunity to check the Virgin Megastore located in Caesar's Palace as well, where they claimed to have it in stock, but were unable to locate it for me.

I finally got tired of waiting. Jean was ordering a CD, so I piggybacked an order for Moshi Moshi, and I have had it in my hands for 24 hours. I wish I could say that I've had time to listen to all of it, but in truth I've only had the opportunity to listen to the first five tracks. But be warned that there'll be reviews forthcoming, possibly after a few weeks, but more likely in dribs and drabs as I absorb an individual song at a time. So far, about half the songs are appealing to me. I'll let you know more when I've digested .

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:00 PM

Doggerel Through The Ages

Ages ago, I was singing Candle In The Wind whilst Jean attended to her morning toilet. Jean, not being one to let well enough alone, spoke the exact words to completely deflate the grandeur of the tune:

"That song doesn't make any sense at all. It's like MacArthur Park," which if you've never heard it, can be confusing, though I always understood the gist of it.

I immediately launched into my rendition of MacArthur Park, preferring to imitate the lesser-known but surely more annoying Anthony Newley performance to that of the more famous Richard Harris version. "Someone left a cake out in the rain / And I don't think that I can take it / 'cause it took so long to bake it / and I'll never have that recipe AGAIN!!!!"

But that was then, this is now. Just this Tuesday, I was tooling up 65th, an old farm lane, on my way to pick up Kelly from Bridgeport Elementary School (I ferry her to Kid Connection on Tuesdays, while Jean has class). I had the radio on, tuned to pop music, when on comes a two-fer of Elton John tunes, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Take Me To The Pilot.

I was in high school when these things were first out, and so they are etched into my hindbrain, beyond reproach. But still, there is that element of wild non-sequitur there. It's poetry, folks, so it doesn't have to make sense. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road actually tells a story, but still has it's gems, just follow the link. But Take Me To The Pilot, now there is one helluva fine brain sprainer:

If you feel that it's real I'm on trial

And I'm here in your prison

Like a coin in your mint

I am dented and I'm spent with high treason

Now them's good lyrics. And sure enough, as I recall from way back when, all three of these songs were written by lyricist Bernie Taupin, who I think was Elton's boyfriend at the time too. Sampling other tunes I remember with that same painfully out-of-phase word logic, such as Tiny Dancer, I find, yes, The Taupster. He's consistent in his inconsistency. So there you go, Jean, blame Bernie.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:44 PM

April 16, 2001

Kelly In Style

KellySmall (11k image)Well I've finally gotten the opportunity to post a more recent picture of Kelly. The image at left, and it's larger version, were taken at a 'professional studio', carefully posed and amply supplied with props and costumes. Jean paid for it out of her own pocket so she would have a nice picture of Kelly to remember from her 5-year old period.

Also, I'm told, she plans to have a nice print of one of the proofs with her and Kelly together made up for me for Father's Day. True, I don't believe in Father's Day or any of the other Hallmark-manufactured holidays, but the picture is rather nice, so I thought I'd add it to the site. After a few days, I'll move/copy it to the 'Welcome to Terebi II" header for that personal touch

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:41 PM

Just a test

Casual readers, pay no attention. This is a test of custom template variables: Terebi I. What's the deal? It appears that when an entry appears on the main page, then 'custom' variables interpolate just fine. But when this same message appears in the archive directory, the use of custom variables, defined or otherwise, fails to expand. Here is the second defined variable, Terebi II, used in the middle of a sentence.

Just to be complete, here is a use of a custom variable which has not been defined to mean anything in the templates,

Essays and Reviews


. I don't know what it's supposed to look like on the front page or otherwise.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:50 PM

Kelly Mots

Two cute Kelly quotes from the weekend:

Waiting in line for the Easter Bunny March, Kelly spotted a kid from Kid Connection, and his dad, whom we'd also seen the previous weekend at Spy Kids. Her greeting: "So, we meet again."

Last night Jean pointed out to Kelly that she still had one trinket for Easter to unwrap. Her question: "Is it from a blood relative?"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:59 AM

April 15, 2001

Jesus Christ Superstar

I'm just plain evil. Or anyway strange. I was explaining to Kelly what the Judeo-Christian facet of Easter was all about, and got to the part where Jesus goes back to Heaven. For some reason Kelly decided to sing (sing-song voice) "bye, bye!" That stuck in my head. I didn't immediately know why.

However, as we were driving down to Mentor for our walk, it occured to me. You could do an almost perfect drop in replacement of the Passion Play into Bye Bye Birdie! I just about cracked up with the image of the young Ann-Margret as Mary Magdalene, doing her 'hysterical seductress' shimmy dance and singing "Bye byeeee JEEEEsus!"

Anyway, consign me to whatever circle of Hell you think I belong in. To the Hollywood talent scouts, I offer this idea free and clear. Maybe someday computer technology will have advanced enough that we can do this thing with the original actors

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:55 PM

Easter Egg Hunt!

EasterBanner (11k image)This morning was Easter morning, and Kelly treats it just like Christmas. She was up early this morning, dragging us out of bed, so that we could begin conducting the Easter egg hunt. I'll probably post one picture of her looking like a little savage hovering over an egg with her basket to my Photopoint account later this week. It is too large and too ephemeral to post here.

After the egg hunt, was the 'puzzle hunt'. Jean creates these map/riddle sheets which she puts in plastic eggs, each of which leads Kelly to the next one. When Kelly has followed the path, she ends up with some candy and a couple of toys. Much cheaper than Christmas, but very interactive, so Kelly enjoys it a lot. This year she got a Power Puff Girls puzzle, a couple of stuffed bunnies, and a game called Guess Who?. It's actually kind of fun.

After that I spent the better part of the day doing household chores and entertaining Kelly while Jean studied. We went down to Mentor to do a walk after lunch. On New Year's Day we toss bread to the ducks, so today we pegged hard-boiled eggs at them .

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:25 PM

April 14, 2001

Microwave Ahoy!

I went to Sears today and picked up prefilters for the Honeywell air filters, four pairs of pants, and... the microwave! Yay!

It's a Sharp, the same brand as our old one, but they've added more stuff than you can shake a stick at, including some sensor technology which will 'judge' when the food must be done instead of requiring you to select an interval. I used the 'sensor rewarm' on a baked potato and it seemed to work pretty well. I look forward to playing with the multiple settings.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:41 PM

Go Flesh!

When Jean plays with Kelly, be it Barbie Dolls or card games, she generally has a tough time enduring the diversions and distractions which Kelly is prone to, not to mention the simple pain of playing Barbies for more than two minutes.

This was born out tonight, when Jean combined her community college class in biology with Go Fish:

"Do you have any striated squamous epithelium?"

"Mom!" Pause... "Go Fish!"

This went on long enough that Kelly finally began calling "go flesh!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 PM

Easter Parade

They shoulda left me home. This morning we went with Kelly to the local grocery store, Haggen, to participate in a 'parade', which consisted mostly in following someone in a bunny suit past the various stores in the complex housing Haggen as owners and employees handed out candy. Before all of this started, the costumed crony was posing with kids, getting their pictures taken. It was taking awhile.

I must have been getting bored, because I saw 'Bunny' leaning over a carriage, and I turned to Jean and said, "look! The Easter Bunny is blessing their child!" I started cracking myself up, and held up an invisible baby, saying "Easter Bunny, bless mine!" Jean tried hard to look as if she wasn't with me. Later as we marched past the various stores, I commented on our 'million egg march'. There were other cracks after that, but I won't belabor the point.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:32 PM

'N Sync

Yesterday evening, leaving work, I was whistling a tune, out of the vast store of pop-culture noise I store in my brain. My boss Ernie emerged from the stairwell behind me and followed me out. As he was walking to his car, he asked me what I was whistling.

I actually had to think a moment, as I had not consciously selected it. After a beat I told him "it's the Superman theme from the 1940's Max Fleischer cartoons." There was a pause as we both looked at each other, then we both cracked up.

I'm pretty sure Ernie and I were on the same wavelength, and here's why I was laughing:

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:25 PM

April 13, 2001

Asperger Baby

In the online version of New Scientist, there's an interview with Simon Baron-Cohen, who is a clinical psychologist at Cambridge University. He runs a clinic for Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. After the interview is displayed a shortlist of 10 symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, with the following caveat:

...Before you panic--or feel relieved to have found a possible explanation for your problems--ALL 10 descriptions must apply to you, and your difficulties must be significantly interfering with your daily life.

While I understand the caveat (after all, I greatly enjoyed 'imaginative story-writing' in highschool), and I have some quibbles with the wording of some of the items, this would explain a lot...

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:34 PM

Bust-A-Groove, Meet The Flintstones!

Yesterday evening I was wandering around the kitchen and living room while waiting for my dinner to come out of the microwave. Feelin' kinda bouncy, I was movin' to the beat, ya know? Humming to myself, I didn't really give it any thought, but it caught Kelly's attention, sitting at her personal mini-dinner-table eating and watching Cartoon Network.

"Do you like The Flintstones or not?" she asked. Kind of puzzling, since I have made a big deal before about how much I despise the show. You know, the usual exaggerated histrionics, the "Ewww! I hate that show! Change the channel!" kind of light show that Kelly enjoys when I put it on. So I was puzzled.

"You know I think it sucks, so why do you ask?"

"Well, you're singing the Flintstones song," she replied.

Ye gods, I am not, I thought. But what exactly was I humming? After a moment's thought, I recognized the tune. It was from one of the game levels of Bust a Groove 2! So I told Kelly that's what I was humming. She gave me a dubious look.

After dinner I dragged Kelly downstairs and showed her the game, running through a couple of practice rounds. Then I did a competition round and coincidentally hit on just the tune I'd been humming. "That's the tune! That's what I was humming, Kelly," I told her.

The moment of her reaction is an example of why I'm sorely tempted to buy a Canon Powershot S100. Also known as the "Digital Elph", this camera is the size of a pack of playing cards, and is sufficiently small and light, that you can carry it with you all the time, to get that shot you don't want to miss.

So I'm sitting there, having informed Kelly that the tune she is hearing on the PS2 is the one I was humming upstairs. Now I discover that Kelly has a new patented look: surprise mixed with amused condenscension. Am I that tone deaf?

'Scuse me, I gotta go practice in the shower now .

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:05 AM

April 12, 2001

Short Notes

Just a few quick notes as I'm real busy lately:

That's it for now. I'll try to write a longer report of life on the Wakefield homestead in a day or two.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:58 AM

April 11, 2001

Overhead Measured!

Yow! I ran the experiment to see how long it took to post a short article to Terebi, and it was staggering! The first two times I tried, the browser just plain timed-out. That took 2:32 and 2:07 respectively. The third time I succeeded, but only after 5:45! Yuck!

Posting this little article, on the other hand, cost me all of 50 seconds, from the first click on the link to the editor interface to the final click showing me the result. What a difference.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:35 PM

April 10, 2001

Server Speed Matters

One of the things I've noticed when noodling with this weblog, is that turnaround on writing and posting an article is faster than my Userland weblog. A lot faster. One effect this has is to encourage me to write shorter entries. On Terebi, each post is an ordeal (the fruits of free websites), so I tend to write longer entries...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:59 PM

I Want Smileys, Dammit!

This is a test. I have smileys on Terebi, and I want them here! So I swiped some offa the 'Net (sorry, don't remember who wuz robbed) and will now try them here next to a body of text: smile -> ; frown->. Enjoy!

Testing smaller smile -> ; frown->.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:56 PM

Welcome To Terebi II

Kelly Model (16k image) For the immediate future, you can find my essays on Terebi I, though my anime reviews and my single Asian movie review are here. My main weblog is now here.

As with Terebi I, news items tend to be personal in nature, probably only of interest to family and friends, though anyone is welcome to read. Along the left margin I've included some of the links I visit more or less regularly. Along the right sidebar will be the links to my collected essays and reviews, by category. At the left of this paragraph is a picture of my daughter Kelly. Click to get to a directory of Christmas candid digital snaps.

Note that there is a comments feature. So far no one has used it. I'd guess that's par for the course. If you want to try it, feel free. I'll only turn it off if comments become scatological or unreasonably abusive.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:19 PM

April 03, 2001

Terebi I (http://terebi.weblogs.com) No-Connects

While Terebi II (this site) is experimental and low-volume, it occured to me that I can use it for redundancy when Terebi I is off-line for whatever reason. Right now, you can't reach Terebi I because:

A heads-up to the people using free hosting on UserLand servers, we're hitting some kind of scaling wall or getting pounded, or a combination of both. Brent is working on what he calls the Spring 2001 Cleanup. It's going to take a while to get back the performance. We're busting out on all sides, sorry for the downtime/outage.

Dave Winer, on Scripting News

So from now on, if you can't connect to Terebi I for a couple of days, try Terebi II.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:32 PM

March 16, 2001

Site Is Shaping Up

I fiddled with the settings for style and whatnot on Terebi II, and after a while realized that the settings were not showing up because Greymatter wants to name all files something.htm, while Agora wants to only recognize files named something.html. That's one of those Windows vs. Unix sort of things.

So now Terebi II is using my layout3.css stylesheet from Bluerobot.com almost everywhere on the site. I just have to figure out why the search results page doesn't work. I'm baffled, and it's too late in the day to wrestle with it. Besides, the referred pain in my jaw makes it a bigger task still.

I don't know if I'll get to it tomorrow either, since Kelly is having a play date with one of her friends from daycare, a girl named Trinity. Yep, "A Girl Named Trinity". I'm gonna have to ask her, "what do they call you?" Sick, I know...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 PM

Stitches Out!

I had them removed today and I received reassurances from Erika and Dr. Levin that things were healing beautifully, despite the throbbing pain which had kept me awake one night. It seems that is more typical than my experience last time, when I felt little pain and had healed enough to eat normal foods within a week.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:02 PM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2001

First Lengthy Entry

Well, I promised to talk about my second periodontal visit eventually. I'll wait for a later article to explore the adventure of having surgery the day after Jean's parents arrived to visit for a weekend. I'll also save for a later post the silliness of worrying what shape my mouth will be in when I finally run off to Vegas with Jean and Kelly next Thursday. No, this post is solely for complaining! Here goes!

I went to Dr. Levin's office on Friday morning, and with the usual caveats about discomfort (needle in the palette, anyone?), it went routinely. But starting about yesterday, I had increasing pain from the 'donor area', i.e. the area from which the graft skin was taken, on the palette. When I looked into the mirror with a bright light, I saw the raw exposed flesh, as expected, but I also saw a whitish patch in the center of the wound. I began to worry about infection.

Since I was having a lot of pain in the donor area, and a lot of refered pain in the jaw, it is hard to tell if there is an infection, or just 'normal' pain. I finally caved today and called Dr. Levin's office to check if what I was experiencing was considered normal. Since I won't be there to have the stitches out until Friday, I thought it would be better not to wait.

The phone was answered by Wendy, Dr. Levin's assistant, and she was very friendly and helpful. She told me that what I was experiencing was normal, right down to the increasing level of pain in the palette. She assured me that it was alright to call any time I had a question, but suggested that I'd be alright until Friday, when Dr. Levin could look at me in person.

So I'm trying to handle leaving out the mouthpiece they gave me, even though every time my tongue touches the roof of my mouth it aches and burns. What a sad tale, eh?

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:15 PM

My Inaugural Post

I'm gonna go with the minimalist format for awhile (just using the layout3.css stylesheet I got from Bluerobot.com) and concentrate on writing a few essays. Maybe one tonight as well. Looks like true essays, i.e. lengthier articles, are going to have to be 'uploaded' and placed into an index on the side navbar. Not sure yet.

I'm also not going to go crazy sending people here just yet. Who knows, maybe the RU tool with the original Terebi will work out. For now I'm a gonna log out and concentrate on work again! Take care all.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:22 PM