April 11, 2001

Overhead For Article Posting


On Terebi II I noted that the speed with which I could post an article seemed to influence how long my articles were. I.e., since this weblog experiences a lot of latencies due to server overload and whatnot, it is more trouble than it is worth to post a short article.

So I tried timing posting this article. The first two times, the browser timed out after 2:32 and 2:07 respectively. I'm timing this post, and will post an addendum with that time after completing the initial posting. To be fair, I'm not including the time taken to enter the article.

Okay, the timings are over. To post this article to the site, not counting in time to enter the article, cost me a total of 5:45! Crikey! On the other hand, posting to Terebi II using the same rules, cost all of 50 seconds. So guess where I'll be posting most of my shorter articles now?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:29 AM

April 06, 2001

Spring Classes


Jean was out last night attending the orientation session for her Spring Telecourse. She's taking a biology course which consists of around 26 audio lectures (on tape) and six televised presentations. But she has to show up in a physical classroom to take the exams, and last night to find out what the class was about she went in to PCC. I'm looking forward to seeing how this 'remote' course works out.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 AM

PS2 First Impressions



I spent around a half hour last night fiddling with Bust A Groove
2
. On the face of it, a very simple game. I won't go into details, but the goal is to match button presses on the controller to the beat of the music (in 4/4 time). Press the arrow keys on the left of the controller during the first three beats (as directed by the game), then a symbol key from the right side of the controller on the fourth beat (again as directed by the game). Miss the beat/keypress synchronization and your dance character actually stumbles! Keep up, and your character rewards you with smooth moves "qbullet.smiley". Given my extreme lack of
coordination, it will be a long time before I get my game characters
dancing smoothly.

I didn't try Tomb Raider III at all yet, since Kelly was upstairs by herself and I didn't want to completely abandon her. I played the Onimusha demo, and I have to admit that the graphics of a game coded directly for PS2 are much smoother than those in the games I bought, which are both coded to PS One standards.

Why was Kelly alone upstairs, you ask? Subject of the next article "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 AM

April 05, 2001

New Review Up!


Well, it took me a couple of months to finish it (okay, three), but my
review of Megami
Kouhosei
is finished. I published it last night on
Terebi II,
since Weblogs.com was down for
Spring Cleaning. But I've moved it here now, and it's called "Top Gundam"!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:18 PM

Tea-time on the Titanic


Gah! I'm going down! I've got more fun things to do than I can possibly
make time for!

In addition to the microscope, the PS2, the monthly subscriptions to Scientific American and Atlantic Monthly, the weekly subscription to New Scientist (I've given up all pretense of keeping up with those), the ReplayTV and my self-paced study of Haskell (and let's not forget that Spring is here, and the roads are drying up enough for me to try taking out the bike again), I've got another distraction coming up!

Recall that I've been studying functional programming for a short while, really only taking a couple hours a week, using the Haskell programming language as a launching point. Over time I've formed a (weak) opinion that Haskell is not suited to the performance intensive applications that I tend to work on.

So I have been casting around for a candidate, and I think that Objective Caml (Ocaml for short) is a good enough choice. Where Haskell is a 'pure, non-strict, functional language', Ocaml is an 'impure, strict functional language with imperative features'. So there is enough orthogonality to make things interesting, especially considering that the syntax of the two is so different. Moreover, Ocaml has won first and second place in last year's Functional Programming Languages contest (I forget the official name).

But it is an academic language, so documentation is usually of the form "if you understand the language, this documentation will make perfect sense." Not a lot of help for an outsider. So I ordered the only book on Ocaml in the English language (it's designers are French professors). And it arrived today! Gah!

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:54 PM

Timesink Ahoy!


When I left this morning on my errand to fetch a microscope, I knew that
I'd be passing Toys'r'Us on my return
trip, and that they'd be open by the time I got into their
neighborhood. So I jotted down their number and took my cellphone
along.

Why? Because Amazon and Toys'r'Us have been in a partnership offering Playstation 2 bundles (overpriced packages with three games I didn't want) for sale online for months now. But they've mostly been 'out of stock', and when they do get them in stock, they sell out in seconds to minutes. The last few days, however, they have had them in stock and not run out.

So I decided that the PS2 pipeline must finally be filled. On the way back from getting the microscope, I called Toys'r'Us and asked if they had them, and the saleswoman answered in a very matter-of-fact voice, "sure do." Yowza! So I swung by and bought one. As I was dropping the microscope off at home anyway, I just stopped in and set up the PS2 too. Then on the way to work, I stopped at Fry's and picked up:

I took a pass on Oni, since I'd played the demo on my iBook, and found it less interesting than I'd thought, and at $50 bucks, I wasn't sure I wanted to dig deeper to see if it was better than the demo. What I'm really waiting for is Black and White. According to this article, the graphics look great on a souped-up PC, and lame on a Playstation, but the gameplay is the same on both, and that's what I'm waiting for!

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:04 PM

Welcome Back!


Terebi is back online after a twenty-four hour hiatus. It seems that the servers for www.weblogs.com were overloaded, and had tons of old cruft on them. Userland took them down for "Spring Cleaning".

Fortunately, I didn't have all that much to say, so I wasn't choked out of my venue. But from now on, if Terebi goes down, try Terebi II, which is an experimental weblog I'm trying out on my ISP's website.

I have a couple of minor news items today, which I'll post as time permits. See ya!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:44 AM

Fantastic Voyage


I took a half-day off this morning in order to meet with Marv Bielsky at
Stoller Middle School. Marv is a retired science teacher who now runs
his own small business, Scientific Instrument Service and
Repair
. He travels around the region repairing and calibrating
scales, microscopes, telescopes and the like. As a sideline he rebuilds
used microscopes, sells them for $100, and donates the money to
charities.

It was under the last heading that I was to meet with him. I agreed to buy a standard high-school grade microscope from him for Jean's birthday (and for Kelly to share, under supervision). The catch is that he is based in Vancouver Washington, and travels all the time. So I had to meet him at a school where he was working. Stoller Middle School is way the heck north of where I live or work, but it was the closest he was likely to get, so I made the trip.

I've got the microscope now, it is a standard 4X, 10X, 40X with a 10X wide-field eyepiece. It is really sturdy, and gives tons better results than the plastic telescope Jean bought for Kelly for Christmas. The difference is like night and day. Marv said that if we had bought a new microscope of similar quality it would have come to $500. So it was worth the trip.

While I was there, I found out that Marv doesn't just do technical instrument repair. In the summer, he lives in Montana, where he runs his own business as a fishing guide. Interesting guy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:31 AM

April 02, 2001

April Idiots


Yes, I have a sense of humor, albeit a weird one. But I generally have no patience for the phenomenon known as 'April Fools'. Least of all on the Internet, where I am subjected to a blizzard of inane jokes masquerading as news items on various sites. "April Fools! Hah hah, that sure was funny!"

It's not that I fall for them. I don't. Most of them are transparent, and the rest only require a little careful reading, and I'm constantly amazed at the prats who dive right into the hoax and are completely fooled ("no man, I was just going along with the joke, that's it"). So for two or three days I have to wade through a bunch of moronic and pointless 'humor' to get to the normal gems I come to these sites for. Well, the pipe will be cleared soon, grump, grump.

We now return you to your regular broadcast day.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:20 AM

March 30, 2001

Wings of Cotton


I give Kelly her bath as often as Jean does, and it was last night that I realized that Kelly and I had more or less drifted into a post-bath ritual. After the wash, she climbs out dripping, as I stretch the towel out behind her like wings.

Kelly backs into the towel, and I wrap her in it, enclosing my arms around her. Then I pick her up into my lap, and I hug her dry. My shirt and pants usually get wet, but that doesn't matter.

I don't know which of us enjoys this ritual more.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 PM

March 29, 2001

Sharp Lifestyle


This is my day to catch up on posts, it seems. Jean and I went out on
Tuesday afternoon, before picking up Kelly from daycare, and
visited Sears, with an eye to replacing our ailing microwave. Before we
left for Vegas, Jean detected a funny plasticky smell, and assumed it
was the microwave. So we got an older back-up model out of the closet
and began using it, with the intention of shopping for a new one when we
got back from our trip.

After we got back, Kelly and Jean went to bed early, and I was futzing around in the kitchen in the dark. I looked for the light switch over the stove, and hit the fan switch by accident instead. I immediately heard a strained humming, but no air movement. I got the light on, and popped the filter off the hood over the stove. Out of the hood fell a strip of wood, looking somewhat beat up. The fan started to creak around. Turns out that the dang thing was jammed by the strip of wood stuck between the blades!

So my new operating hypothesis is that the smell that Jean detected was coming from the fan. Coincidentally, our back-up microwave decided to stop working just then, so I plugged in our main, supposedly broken microwave and tried it out. No funny smell. Jean agrees that it might be okay, but with no back-up microwave, and the fact that we hardly ever use the stove, we agreed to make this microwave the backup, and buy a new one.

So we made it to Sears, and found the microwaves just fine. We looked them over and narrowed it down to a couple of models. One of them, a Sharp (our current one is also a Sharp), had a metallic finish (burnished aluminum such as you see in professional kitchens) and it really appealed to me. By this time there was a sales lady hovering around asking if she could help us. Jean asked if there was any unit I liked, and I said "that one. I want that one. Let's get it now." "qbullet.smiley"

Jean was dumbfounded. She said later that she'd never seen me react to an appliance that way before. But I was adamant. I wanted that microwave, and said so in no uncertain terms. So what did the sales lady do? She started giving us a sales pitch! "This feature is fun. Just enter a number and punch this button..." "Uh huh," I said. "We'll take it."

"I think you'll really like it. Look at what else it can do..." This went on through three or four exchanges, with me always saying the equivalent of "can I buy the damn thing already?" But she was a sales bot, determined to walk nonchalantly through her sales brochure, pertaining to the sales of microwaves, Sharp brand.

Finally she agreed to actually find the model for us in the warehouse, and it turned out that they'd have to order one, not available until mid-April. At this point I was unwilling to negotiate the sales bot routine on yet another model, so I just said "please order it for us, then." I believe that the microwave we have will last at least that long, so cross your fingers. Oh, by the way, did you know you can now scramble eggs in a microwave?!! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:14 PM

Viva Las Vegas


Last night I fired up Napster and
searched for "Viva Las Vegas" (as sung by Elvis Presley). When I
searched on Elvis Presley, I found nothing. Those RIAA filters
are working overtime. So I searched on 'Viva Las Vegas' and got
tons of matches. I found one accredited to 'Elsiv Presley', and
downloaded it. Sure enough it was Elvis. Guess those filters aren't up
to snuff just yet.

Anyway, what prompted this sojourn was that I wanted to commemorate the trip to Vegas by playing the song for Jean and Kelly. Maybe I'll buy the album some day, but to be frank, I'm not that big an Elvis fan. If the RIAA would get off their butts and sell songs online ala carte, I might be interested, but they are a bunch of crooks and cheats, so I Napstered this one (and yes, I'm aware of the irony of calling them crooks as I download a bootleg of Elvis).

My memory betrayed me again, as I recalled the opening bars following a sort of brisk samba pace, "dot dot Dot, dot da-Dot-da-da". But when I actually played it, it was much livelier, almost manic, "da-da-Da-da-da-Dadada", practically twice as fast as I'd remembered it.

I told Jean that I was downloading it, and she looked at me with a "are you crazy" look while saying "okaaaaay." I asked what the big deal was, and told her I just wanted to play the song for her and Kelly, and she said "OH, the song! I thought you were downloading the MOVIE!" "There's a movie?" I said. More cluelessness from Daddy Wakefield.

Today I drove Jean to see Dr. Ma, the opthalmic specialist she sees due to her eye problems (no problems today, just a regular check-up, which went okay). I had to drive because she was going to get her pupils dilated enough to park an SUV in, and couldn't drive back home herself. So after we returned, and before I went on to work, I played the song for her. She agreed that it was pretty manic, and noted that Ann-Margret was in the movie.

This is important mainly because Ann-Margret has a body of work in musicals where she dances in the most frantic manner imaginable, and Jean pointed out that this song would definitely kick that style into overdrive. As I was leaving for work, she said that Ann-Margret was a "hysterical seductress". I laughed nearly half-way to work.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:46 PM

The Agony and the Ecstasy


The other evening I was having dinner, and Kelly had not yet eaten. For
the record, I had (among other stuff) some 'baked beans' which were
homemade, from Great Northern beans, by Jean. I also had some homemade
whole wheat bread sticks.

As I ate, I asked Kelly if she was hungry yet. She said no, and I told her to bear in mind that 'the kitchen closes at 7:30 pm.' This is a rule in our house to curtail foot-dragging come bedtime. So Kelly wandered over to see what I was eating. I offered her a fork-full of beans, and she wrinkled her nose.

If that was all she'd done, that would be the end of this note. But she cranked herself up and began a rant, purely for dramatic effect:

Eww! That's disgusting! I can't believe you're eating that! I think I'm gonna be sick, yuck!

This rant is notable because it is the same one I give her, whenever catch her putting paper into her mouth, especially tissue. It really does gross me out, but I add a lot of drama because it seems to give her pleasure. So here she is doing the same thing to me, over beans.

After a short while, I finished a mouthful of beans and reached for the bread stick. I took a bite, and offered the end to her. Kelly walked up, looked at it for a moment, and then said "that looks appetizing." My five-year old daughter just flashes on the most adult phrasing sometimes. So Kelly had mostly bread sticks for dinner. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:00 PM

March 27, 2001

An Entirely Personal Reference


I've linked to Greg Knauss' An Entirely Other Day before (see "In the Name of Halloween..."), and I think that time too was one which had more personal impact than general humor. Still, I gotta inflict this one on you, as it had me stifling chuckles for a whole minute.

The Harlan Ellison references will be lost on you if you didn't grow up reading his early belligerant stuff, as I did, and of course it's these references which got me chuckling.

I stumbled across this one while reading Kottke.org. He pointed to it and I followed. I don't read Greg Knauss' site regularly, but I should. EOD is sort of like a fortune cookie for the weird, or Suburban Snot-nosed Humor on Steroids. Perhaps I'll put it on my regular link rotation

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:52 PM

March 26, 2001

Picture == 1024 words


Do you think pictures capture memories in a way that eludes the mind? After a decade, many events have completely left my fragile braincase, and it is not uncommon for Jean to go into intricate detail describing some event which for the life of me I cannot recall. If she'd taken a picture, would it have lasted longer?

I've got a digital camera, a geek toy really, which I use when the mood suits me, or when a holiday arrives. Lucky for you I don't use it more often. But the point I guess I'm trying to make, is if a picture is worth a thousand words, why don't I take more pictures?

I just realized that what makes this weblog work for me is that I don't think in pictures. I think in words, inner monologues, sometimes inner dialogues. Images figure into things, and when I need to diagram some complex interaction, I'll draw something or visualize it. But I don't visualize life. I write my novel in real time, with words, well chosen or otherwise.

That's probably why I've been so taken with this web logging phenomenon. I've always been an avid reader, and even though parenthood has taken my book consumption down an order of magnitude, I'm always reading something. Now I'm frequently writing something as well. Will it clear up that foggy window into the past ten years hence? No, it won't embed my memories any more firmly, but I'll be able to browse the words the way some folks browse photo albums, and since words are my sea, I'll swim here more readily.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:31 PM

March 25, 2001

Trip Report


Well, we're back from Las Vegas, and the threatened back spasm didn't happen, at least not yet. We had a great time, and I took a couple of hours to jot down my impressions of the trip, recorded in "Las Vegas Diary".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 PM

Las Vegas Diary

Las Vegas Pilgrimage

The Orleans' formidable restaurant line-upWe are back from our vacation, a mere four day jaunt to the desert climes of Las Vegas. No horrors occurred, many experiences were had, and in general, everybody had a good time. Jean realized her dream of taking a vacation with the family for the first time since Kelly was a little baby. Kelly had great fun greeting many strangers, and cleaned up in the souvenir department. For my part, I sought out the two or three gems in the trip which would distinguish it from a tourist junket.

This then is my 'diary'. It wasn't written on the trip, or it would fill several dozen more paragraphs than exist here. Instead, highlights, impressions and stream-of-consciousness reign freely. I'll do my best to recall all the interesting items from my point of view. Jean and Kelly will have to write their own accounts if they want to be heard "qbullet.smiley".

The trip down was uneventful, and anybody who has travelled anywhere at all can 'insert experience here'. I'll just observe that we had no traffic on the way to the airport worth worrying about, and we made our flight with plenty of time. With Spring Break commencing, the plane was full, but no drunken rabble rousers were on board, so it was a pleasant flight. That said, let us commence with my diary, or Las Vegas: Carnival of the Senses "qbullet.smiley".

The Arrival

Anyone who has been to Las Vegas by plane knows that as you enter the terminal you begin your acclimatization to the world of chance. Before we even left the gate, we heard the sound of bells, chimes, ratcheting gears and computer bleeps. As we disembarked our eyes were assaulted with the flashing lights of slot machines, arrayed in the center of the concourse. Welcome to Vegas, indeed.

We claimed our luggage after a brief amount of difficulty, then caught the shuttle to the hotel, The Orleans, themed after New Orleans, as you might guess. Every hotel has a gimmick in Las Vegas, from mimicking the New York skyline, to reproducing the canals of Venice. In our case, every day was Fat Tuesday, as Kelly seemed to accumulate cheap plastic beads and necklaces (some with faux crawfish attached) faster than she could break them.

As we walked into the hotel, our senses were assaulted again. This time, in addition to the chorus of slot machines clamoring for attention, there was another sense assaulted: smell. In Nevada, they seem not to have discovered the 'no smoking' laws. Yuck! Many was the time during our trip that I traversed the casino barely able to keep my eyes open. And there are people who sit in that casino for hours on end, pushing buttons, pulling cranks, feeding quarters, shuffling cards, and breathing, breathing, breathing smoke. First hand, second hand, thick, thin, omnipresent. We had a no-smoking room, and it smelled of smoke. As I write this, all our clothes are undergoing a rigorous washing. When I finish this, I will undergo a rigorous washing.

Another complaint, while I'm whingeing. The water was rather unpleasant tasting. If I hadn't needed to rehydrate frequently to deal with the desert air, I'd have found some other way to imbibe fluids. Since the hotel had on the order of five bars, I could easily have pickled myself. Instead, I chose to drink lots of pop. That might not have been healthy, but the water certainly drove me to it.

The final culture shock was the presence of a sales tax! I know, in most states, that is the norm, but I've gotten so used to living in Oregon, and venturing outside of the state so infrequently, that I constantly had to correct my expectations during purchases to factor in the sales tax. Okay, enough culture shock, on to the trip...

Thursday

Here we have a not-too-interesting day. We checked into the hotel around noon, but had to wait around until three to get our ostensibly no-smoking room. So we wandered the casino, watching people play the various machines and games available. I was interested to see that the roulette tables were manned by no less than three employees. One ran the wheel, one was the croupier, and a third kept a running tally of activity on a clipboard. Is this normal? I don't know.

Eventually we got our room and unpacked. Kelly immediately began clamoring for a trip to the hotel pool, so Jean and I escorted her outside for her swim. I wasn't in the mood for swimming, indeed I had not packed a swimsuit. Jean was too tired to go paddling about either.

But Kelly dove in, and began her routine, which was to continue all weekend, of greeting any and everyone. She is so extroverted that I don't know who her actual parents are, since Jean and I are both introverts. I think she may have gotten it from my own mother, who was also an extreme extrovert. This went on all through the weekend, and was a constant source of amusement to me.

After the swim we checked out one of the restaurants in the hotel, of which there were several, and more being built. The one we chose was called Bones, and was a barbeque ribs joint. Given that it might surprise you that we ordered pizza (for Jean and Kelly) and a fish fry for me. I dunno, I'm just not into ribs. In any case, after dinner, we just rambled about for awhile, let Kelly play some games in the local arcade, then retired to our room to read books and prepare for bed.

Friday

Friday saw our first day on the 'Strip'. We concentrated mainly on the South end of the Strip, or Las Vegas Boulevard, as it is officially labelled. The owner of The Orleans also owns two other hotels, The Gold Coast and The Barbary Coast. The Orleans and The Gold Coast are off the strip by about a mile, but shuttles are available between the three hotels, so you can catch the shuttle to the Barbary Coast and find yourself on the Strip without blowing a ton on cab fare.

So we grabbed a shuttle and hit the Strip. Initially we wanted to hit the MGM Grand, but we knew Kelly would not be able to walk the length of the Strip, which runs over two miles. So we hunted around for the fabled monorail, which covers a large stretch of the Strip. We found out that it starts at Bally's, and runs directly to the MGM Grand. This has the effect of partitioning the Strip into a North and South end, with a hazy middle which we never visited.

Before discovering the monorail at Bally's, we had to wander around in the immediate area of the Barbary Coast, passing through Bally's, Paris and a few other places we didn't catch the name of. This jumbled journey had the effect of baptizing us in the sometimes gaudy, sometimes exotic, sometimes highbrow atmosphere of Las Vegas. By the time we had found the monorail, we had seen at least three distinct architectural styles and three different casino layouts, each attempting to lure and entrap the passing gambler.

Indeed, the architecture of the various casinos was quite reminiscent of Disney World, where a great deal of 'crowd engineering' is expended to shape the visitor experience, and ensorcel the visitor into staying and spending a few more dollars. In the case of the monorail, each endpoint of the monorail had only one exit, through a lengthy mall under the destination hotel. You simply had to walk past each and every store in the mall to get out of the depths into the casino proper, then you had to cross the greater portion of the casino to hit the street.

To get to the point, we found our monorail, travelled to the MGM Grand, and walked out into the street. Our destination was the Excalibur, partly because Kelly thought the building looked like Disneyland, and partly because I wanted to check out the Tournament of Kings, which is the nightly dinner tournament, where each table in the restaurant has a champion knight, who defends the table's honor on the field of battle--a jousting field, that is. Unfortunately, I got sticker shock when I found out it was $40 per person, so we didn't go this time. Next time, I've sworn to save the entrance fee out of my own allowance before we go, so Kelly and I can have a chance to cheer on the King of England, or some other notable, in battle.

After that, we went back to the MGM Grand and had lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe, which attempts to mimic an actual rainforest, in a lowbudget Disney sort of way. Kelly was fascinated by the animatronic gorillas, and the real 'rain' coming out of the ceiling, as well as the jungle mist. I had the 'plant sandwich', which Kelly had the Jurassic Chicken Strips (shaped like dinosaurs). I confess I can't remember what Jean ate. Afterwards we made our way back to the Orleans, since we'd expended a lot of time in figuring out the shuttle and monorail system, and we wanted to get back and prepare for the evening.

Here's where the vacation turned into a hegira of sorts. Jean has over the last few years had an interest in the comedian Jerry Lewis. She is fascinated with the public/private dichotomy, and interested in his history and development as an artist. So she was immediately taken by the notion of seeing him live when the travel agent offered her a hotel package at the Orleans which included a show with him.

The big problem was what to do with Kelly. We knew that no matter how captivating Jerry Lewis might be, Kelly would tire of him before the show was over, and we'd have to leave. It turns out that the Orleans has a child care facility which is really very well equipped, having a play structure, a small movie theatre, snack area, Nintendo game consoles, and on and on. I checked it out that afternoon, and encouraged Jean to try it out. So that evening we dropped Kelly off at Kid Tyme, with Jean experiencing every motherly pang in the book. While Jean was asking one of the caretakers another anxious question, I watched Kelly enter the play area. She ran into the open space with her arms held high, shouting "hello friends! I'm here!"

So I told Jean to stop worrying, and off we went. We were seated in the theatre for about half an hour before the show started. I don't want to give a blow-by-blow account of the show. I'll just observe that both Jean and I had a great time, and there were moments when I couldn't stop laughing. Most of the time was more low key, and it was apparent that Jerry Lewis was beginning to feel his age. The routines were chosen with a 75-year old comedian in mind, and every few routines, he stopped and showed a 'classic moment' from his career on a large video screen, which we decided was artfully arranged to give him a chance to catch his breath.

Finally the evening was over, the show having run around two hours. We went to collect Kelly, and she had to be called three times before she finally showed up. It turns out she had had a great time, and had finally come to the conclusion that Las Vegas was a really great place "qbullet.smiley".

Saturday

Saturday saw us exploring the North Strip in a more thorough manner. We spent the better part of the day in a single hotel/casino: Caesar's Palace. Here we spent a lot of time walking around two malls, though they were called the Forum and the Agora. Kelly's high point this day was a visit to F.A.O Schwarz, a three-story toy store filled with stuffed animals, Pokemon and every other manner of toy on this earth. We did not get out of there easily, though we managed to do it fairly cheaply, buying her a stuffed animal for a mere $14.

After our visit to the toy store, we went to the central market to await the latest gimmick, talking statues. More animatronic fun, these told a story of the fall of Atlantis, and by the end it was clear that they were shilling for a 3-D simulator ride about Atlantis. Kelly actually backed into a store at one point because the thunder and flames were getting too scarey for her. I gotta give it to her, she knows her own limits well.

We wrapped up our time in Caesar's Palace with a visit to their food court, which was actually not any more diverse than the usual mall food court in Oregon. But the food was good, and tasted better for our having worn ourselves out. After buying a few souvenirs (Caesar's Palace hats in my case), we headed back to our hotel.

Finally, on our way back, I had one of those magic moments. I got to see a 3-card monte game in the wild. I've seen them on television, complete with explanations of all the mechanics of the game, but this is the first time I've actually seen the con in progress. Once I heard the shill and the conman doing their patter, I looked up, and spotted the lookouts at either end of the block. It was really cool. I pointed it out to Jean, and another pedestrian commented on how there were better ways to lose money in Las Vegas.

Miscellaneous Observations

It may just be the effect of the monorail but it feels as if 'the Strip' is clustered around a North and a South Strip, with not so much in the middle. Looking over the map, I certainly don't feel there are as many recognizable names centered as at the ends. So for us, the drill of shuttle & walk & monorail may have been the most effective way of seeing Las Vegas.

As much as the architecture was responsible for crowd engineering, so too was the ample availability of rich food, the constant smoke, easy alcohol, and skimpily clothed waitresses part of the gambling infrastructure. They each existed as distractions, and helped to reduce the judgement of the players, making the house the easy winner in many more instances.

Pai Gow PokerI discovered a new variation on the game of poker, which seems to exist mainly to complicate matters. It's called Paigow Poker, and requires each player to play two hands at once, a five-card and a two-card hand, where the five-card hand must be arranged in such a way that it beats the two-card hand held by the same player, using the regular poker rules. What follows is an image of some of the rules for Pai Gow Poker:SOME of the rules to Pai Gow Poker

Here's a list of some of the hotel/casinos missed this trip which we'd like to see if we ever go back: the Venetian, Treasure Island, The Mirage, Harrah's.

The Trip Home

Sunday was almost entirely a travel day (and a recovery day once home). So in actuality you could call this a three day junket. We left the hotel early in the morning, and as we were waiting for our shuttle to the airport, a man approached us, seemingly friendly and casual, and commented about luck and winning. Then he leaned over Kelly, and thrust $10 into her hand. He said, "do you know who St. Gabriel is? The blessed St. Gabriel? That's me." At this time hotel security came rushing over and hustled the guy away, and we gave the $10 to them. We don't want to encourage Kelly into accepting money from strangers.

Jean clearly had had enough with Las Vegas' tobacco fascination. As we entered the airport, we approached the security gates where our belongings would be scanned in the X-ray machine. Jean looked at the lines for each gate, then said "let's take the non-smoking security gate." Of course there's no such thing, Jean had just seen an airport sign admonishing 'no smoking' just before the sign directing her to the security gates, and conflated the two. But I wish there really had been one "qbullet.smiley".

A sign of the big city is that the men's and women's restrooms each had needle deposit boxes for used needles. I don't think I've ever seen that at the Portland airport.

I felt slightly nostalgic for my youth when I was walking down a corridor to the gate and saw a young guy, shaved head and sunglasses, backpack at this feet, lying full out on the carpeted floor to one side of the corridor catching a nap before his next flight. He seemed to be able to sleep quite comfortably as people walked by not two feet away.

On the flight home, Kelly shared a theory with us. It seems that the left side of plane is for homebound travellers, while the right is reserved for visitors to the plane's destination. She came to this conclusion because when we were riding down to Vegas, we rode on the right side of the plane, and returning, we were on the left side. I can't find any fault with her reasoning!

So now we are home. The laundry has run several cycles, and I'm typing up my impressions before they fade. Sorry if this isn't very coherent, but it catches the way I feel anyway. Will we go back? Possibly, but before that I want to see the Oregon coast again, and Jean thinks a trip to Vancouver is in order too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:34 PM

March 21, 2001

Gambling Trip


In short succession I've had the stomach flu, a cold, and periodontal
surgery, the healing of which has taken about twice as long as last
time, so on the eve of our flight to Las Vegas, for what Jean terms our
first real vacation since
Kelly was born (no, Moyer Family Reunions don't count), it is only fitting that I should be receiving warnings
from my back of a potential spasm. I was getting water at the coffee
station this morning when I felt the first twinges, and since then I've
had that 'sensitive' feeling in a band about the lower third of my
ribcage which often warns of worse to come.

So even though we intend to do no gambling on our trip to Las Vegas, we will in fact be doing just that. Most of our heavier luggage now comes on wheels with a long handle, so Jean can take charge of that, and I won't have to heroically horse unwieldy bags around the airport. But the exigencies of travel often stress the body, and I think sitting in the airplane seat alone could trigger an onset if the flight to Las Vegas wasn't so short. In any case, I'll be taking a very hot bath tonight and every night on the trip, which often helps the muscles, and I'll be packing Alleve in the suitcase.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:57 PM

March 19, 2001

Get Out The Vote

Just can't get enough of that democracy "qbullet.smiley"! Saturday was
"NOVA"'s annual elections, and I actually had a lot of fun. I took tons
of pictures, which eventually got culled down to 12 which I published on
the web. Three of my friends are officers for a year. Poor blokes!

After the meeting, since nobody had had a chance to go out and get something to eat (we were all waiting on the results, which were held up because there was a tie between the two Prexy candidates, and one of them had gone to Kinokuniya's to buy Japanese comics "qbullet.smiley"), we went to Carrow's restaurant. As it turns out, this is the regular gathering place for several "NOVA" members after a meeting. I never knew this, because Tom, Alan, James, John and I typically either take in a movie or go to Tom's apartment to watch more anime or Hong Kong Kung Fu flix.

As we began showing up, it soon became clear that there were going to be over twenty people from "NOVA" showing up to eat. We ended up getting the 'banquet room', and constructing a makeshift round table out of the various small tables in the room. I ordered the meatloaf sandwich, and wore my plastic insert to cover the spot in my palette from which the skin graft for my periodontal surgery was taken. It worked fine, and I had fun chatting with various members. By the time I had eaten and paid, it was 11 pm. I got to bed around 11:45.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:49 PM

Age of Dinosaurs


Kelly watched one of Jean's biology shows yesterday evening, and we have evidence that it sank in. As Jean was driving Kelly to Kid Connection today, Kelly asked her if she knew how the dinosaurs died. Jean said "how?" Kelly replied:

"Because red hot lava came pouring out of Russia, and killed a lot of them. Then, when they thought it was over, a giant meteor came crashing down and killed the rest of them, and only tiny animals were able to survive, and they were mammals, and they had teeth, and they changed until they became us, and the world changed until it's like you see it today." So there "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:38 PM

March 17, 2001

BiWebual


I'm experimenting with a weblogging package called Greymatter. The author is Noah Grey, so the package name is actually a pun. How it works is that it is a suite of Perl programs, which run as scripts on a web server (called CGI programs). I got Alan, the owner of Agora to enable cgiwrap, and installed the scripts. So now I'm writing in two weblogs. If you are one of my friends reading this weblog, be sure to check out the other one as well.

Jean has just handed me a pile of check balancing to do, so I'll post more later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:59 AM

We're Back!


After several days of monkeying with the Radio Userland "Mirror to Manila" feature, and discovering that it simply couldn't do what I wanted, I've switched the site back to News Items mode. And like a bad dream, all the intervening posts have gone away!

I'll be fiddling with style sheets over the coming weeks, but dont' worry, until this site is shut down by Dave, who has been generous with his servers for far too long already, I'll keep posting news and thoughts. Take care!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:20 AM

Farewell to Flippy Pages

Well I'll be. Yesterday survived! Apparently, RU only wipes the day in which it is posting. So this experiment was worth something, I'm just not sure what, since I'd like to be able to interleave posting methods in the same day. With true mirroring, that'd probably work. Oh well, having found this out, I'll now try to switch back to News Items mode...   7:54:20 AM

Just flipped the home page, now I'm making a post via RU mirroring. Watch all of yesterday's posts go bye bye!   7:51:01 AM

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:45 AM

March 16, 2001

Farewell to Flippy Pages

Another Post

Support for adding individual articles in Flippy Pages is also limited (just another random post).

Nothing Here

This is my last day of using Flippy Pages. Or rather, I'm going to do one more experiment before switching back to News Items mode. Here is the experiment:

Post via forms for the whole day (just disposable posts). Tomorrow, flip the page, and post only via RU mirroring. See if the flipped page survives. I'm guessing no.

In any case, there is a high probability that I'll be switching back by Sunday. Take care...

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:59 AM

March 15, 2001

Do Not Taunt Flippy Pages

As I suspected, simply changing the formatting of the RU weblog template didn't prevent it from overwriting entries made via the forms interface. This is disappointing, since the only real attraction to using the RU weblog is that I could compose and store a series of posts on my iBook offline, then mirror them to Terebi. When not near my laptop, I'd still be able to use convenient desktop machines to post via forms.

Given this fact, I think I'll be reverting to the News Items format soon. And since there is no advantage to using Radio Userland to post interactively to Terebi, I'll probably stop using it until Dave Winer makes it a condition of having Terebi on his servers. Then I'll most likely switch over to Terebi II.   8:20:04 PM


This morning I posted an article to Terebi via the Web forms interface. Now I'll post an article from the Radio Userland 'mirror to Manila' interface. I fully expect the forms-based entry to disappear.   7:50:22 PM

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:15 AM

March 14, 2001

Daily Topics Are Weird

Qouted in whole so that I can follow the links and read his article tomorrow at work during long compiles "qbullet.smiley".

I just wrote a story on the XML-RPC site with four sample scripts, that show you how to edit a Manila site's home page using SOAP. Here's a quote from Scripting News:


"We'd like to see two specific projects come from this. An editor that runs on Unix, perhaps emacs or vi, that through Apache, allows a user to create and edit stories and update the home page of a Manila site in the same natural way that Radio works with Manila. The other project is to write a .NET application that allows the CLR to be a great editor for Manila text in the same way...



"All you'll have to do is emulate the functionality in other scripting environments. Then we'll have a very important kind of interop, between writers on all these platforms."

It's important to note that you can do this with XML-RPC too. You're not tied to SOAP. The RPC interface to Manila is identical, no matter which protocol you decide to use.

4:25:22 PM   
   10:04:30 PM


Terebi II

By the way, stop by Terebi II and let me know what you think of it. It's in super-duper beta mode, and will probably change a lot in the next few weeks, but it may be the replacement for this weblog sometime in the future.   9:56:16 PM


Best Andromeda Line

Okay, Buffy is in reruns, so I have to refer to another 'guilty pleasure' show, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. There is a character, Trance, who plays her role like a ditz, but is allowed to transcend that stereotype to embody a different one. The main character, Captain Dylan Hunt, realizes that she is clairvoyant, and lets her pick the escape route in the most recent episode. Unfortunately she picks a dead end.

Hunt: I thought you were clairvoyant.
Trance: Well... That's the thing about guessing, 90% of the time, it's 50-50
   9:51:29 PM

Well, one thing has gotten better. I found a hint by one Slyvain Carlyle, suggesting that the template for formatting within RU was messing up the template for formatting in Terebi. Delete the table row and data tags, they said. So I did, and it appears to have worked!

I'll keep struggling with this model for a little while, but I'm also working on a parallel weblog on my ISP's servers, using Perl scripts and CGI, called Greymatter. It's a pretty cool tool. I like it because I'm still able to log from work, home, where everf, without some funky tool losing posts.   9:38:58 PM

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:37 PM

March 13, 2001

Daily Topics Are Weird

First Tuesday 'Mirror' Post

Just testing once again. I'll be asking the community for help today, I guess.   7:32:16 AM

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:26 AM

March 12, 2001

Testing Stories

Just to decide how stories show up in a non-News Items site (during my experiment with Radio Userland 'mirrored' weblogs) here is a super-short post.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:18 AM

Daily Topics Are Weird

Well that's super-puke ugly! And moreover, the two posts I made earlier in the day via the forms interface have been chopped off! So now I'm really disappointed. Crap.   10:58:36 PM

Wishin' and Fishin'

Here's the first post from the iBook using RU, after flipping the page and adding a couple of messages via the Web browser forms interface. I don't expect things to just work, especially since there is a bogus reference to Saturday at the top of the homepage that won't go away.   10:54:22 PM

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:53 AM

March 11, 2001

Radio Userland Just Fell In My Bathtub

Getting Over the Shock

I think this is going to take a few days to get used to. I don't like that Saturday is listed as a newsday even if I posted no articles that day. I need to explore how mirroring will work when I post some articles over the web via forms, and others via Radio Userland's Web Server interface on my iBook.

And this isn't really mirroring, as far as I can tell, since I'm only uploading articles from my laptop, but not downloading an image of my Terebi site to the desktop server. More exploration to do...   5:54:46 PM


Can't Change Fast Enough

Looks sorta ugly, don't it? My only hope is that when I get permission to flip the homepage tomorrow, it will clean up somewhat. At this point, I don't believe that I'll be keeping the 'homepage' format. I liked News Items much better.

The consequence of this is that I won't be able to use the Radio Userland Mirror to Manila feature. Since this may be the wave of the future for users of weblogs.com, I may have to find a new home for my weblog, and new tools!
   5:00:48 PM


Changing Modes

In order to work with Radio Userland's Mirror to Manila mode, it seems I may not use the News Items format. Instead I have to switch to the more common Weblog format. So Brenda, Mike, Nami, I apologize for changing things, but if you missed the last few days, you'll have to drill down through the calendar to find them.   4:20:05 PM

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:18 PM

March 10, 2001

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:25 PM

March 07, 2001

More Periodontal Surgery


I'll give a fuller report as things develop, but this Friday (10:30 am
PST) is the date of my second, and hopefully last, periodontal
surgery. The first was a success, both by the assessment of Dr. Levin
(if he does say so himself) and by the assessment of my hygienist and
dentist.

I get to drive out to West Linn, have the surgery, drive myself back home, then sit or lie still for the rest of the day. The next couple of days, it's all soft foods and no conversation. So it is interesting that Jean's parents will be here at the same time, since they are garrulous, and would most likely try to draw me into the conversation so I wouldn't feel "left out". As a result, even on Sunday, I'm planning to camp out in the den or downstairs while they do their various field trips.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:28 PM

Appliance Junkies

It is so nice having our new water heater. The water during
showers is noticeably warmer, longer. Baths can be as hot as one can
stand. The gradual failure of our old water heater had left me with
diminished expectations. But pleasure is never fated to last, alas.

Tuesday evening, after getting used to limited utility from our
dishwasher, again so gradually that we almost didn't perceive it, we
started a load only to hear a high-pitched whining. Clearly the
dishwasher wasn't going to complete the load without exploding, so we
shut it off, and I proceeded to wash things by hand.

As I felt my back begin to ache, I discovered a truism that is perhaps
only so in a house with spouses of radically different heights. The
cupboards are too high for Jean, and the sink is too low for me! My mind
went back to the days in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, when we always
washed our dishes by hand. I'm so glad those days are past. But they are
here for awhile once again.

Yesterday I came home from work to wait for the repairman, as his only arrival window was during Jean's class. He arrived, spent some time examining the dishwasher, called in to request a price quote on a part, and gave me the bad news: $290 to get it running again. Ugh. Given that that was better than half the price of a new one, I opted not to fix it.

We went to Fry's last night, but they didn't have a suitable dishwasher,
so we went on to Sears, and purchased a Maytag 9100
dishwasher. Unfortunately, it won't be installed until next
Thursday. If that doesn't seem too annoying, I agree with you. Normally
it would be no big deal, except that Jean's parents are visiting
starting this Thursday, through the weekend, which would double our
dishload, if Jean hadn't decided to run out and buy a pile of paper
plates. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:01 PM

Kelly the Rebel

Kelly's pushed the envelope on rebellion a little too far this
time. We've tried to work with her on getting enough sleep, and on
eating enough in the morning to have fuel for the day. But today, she
chose not to yell or throw a tantrum when disagreeing with a
teacher.

Today, she chose to quietly peel a patch of wallpaper off the wall in
her classroom. The teacher told Jean, and Jean asked her why. Kelly said
that she was mad the Mrs. Wentzell insisted that she do her work like
all the other children, and she pulled the wallpaper off to get even
with her!

Jean and I had a conference in the woods, and the concensus is as
follows:

On top of all this, I'll be letting her know how disappointed I am in
all this, and letting her know how lucky she is that I am not my
dad. Otherwise, it would be 'the belt'. Ugh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:45 PM

February 27, 2001

Professional Reading

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:22 AM

Bush in Florida

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:02 AM

Stuffy Snoot

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:45 AM

February 26, 2001

Sick of Sickness

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:05 PM

February 21, 2001

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:21 PM

Diet Levelling

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:48 PM

February 20, 2001

Best Buffy Line

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:29 PM

February 19, 2001

Sickness Wind-down

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:54 PM

February 17, 2001

Full Circle

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 PM

February 16, 2001

Hot Water

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:53 PM

It's a Stomach Flu

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 PM

February 15, 2001

When It Rains, It Pours

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:52 AM

Kelly Sick

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


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


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


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

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:37 AM

February 14, 2001

Valentine's Day

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:37 AM

Word of the Day

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:58 AM

February 13, 2001

Computer Science Reading

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:28 AM

February 08, 2001

Testing Radio

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:13 PM

February 07, 2001

Do a Little Jig!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:38 PM

Keychain Computer Storage

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:26 AM

Keychain Computer Storage

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:22 AM

Steganography In The News

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:54 AM

February 06, 2001

Movie Note

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:22 PM

February 02, 2001

Headgear

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:11 PM

Jean Again

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:09 AM

Kelly's Field Trip

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:21 AM

February 01, 2001

Jean Mots

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:38 AM

January 30, 2001

Superbowl Jews

The above title isn't meant as a slur on Jews. Rather, it refers to the fact that Jews celebrate Hannukah, Christians celebrate Christmas, and the dominant media shitstorm is all about Christmas. By extension, I don't care about sports, nor does Jean. Superbowl is now referred to by many in the media as a national holiday, "bringing everyone together in a common experience." Um, excuse me?

So in the spirit of being a sports apatheist family we went out for dinner during the game. Yeatsy's is a restaurant in Lake Grove, serving Mexican food, though rather richer than what I think of as 'real' Mexican. I had Pollo Asado, Jean had a Spinach Salad, and Kelly had a Soft Taco with beans, cheese and black olives. Much more fun than watching football or commercials!

Fair credit, Jean came up with the Jews and Christmas analogy, and the label 'Superbowl Jews'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:24 PM

January 27, 2001

Tonight's Music

If you've never heard of Danny Elfman, he is most recently known as a film score composer. He's done the music for movies Batman, Darkman, Peewee's Big Adventure, Good Will Hunting and many more. On television, he's done the theme for Tales From the Crypt and The Simpsons.

But before he was a movie composer, he was the creative genius behind Oingo Boingo. This was a pop band with a seriously goofy attitude during the 80's. So tonight I'm listening to a song which is credited to Oingo Boingo, but which was also the theme to a very popular movie of the 80's, Weird Science.

Before that, if you didn't think that was strange enough, I was listening to After the Flesh, by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. This song was featured in the movie The Crow, and was the song which made me seek out more music by the group. I've got their album Confessions of a Knife, but this song is from Napster. Deal.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:12 PM

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

On the way home from our Saturday walk, somehow the subject of surveys entered the conversation, and Kelly wanted to know what a survey was. We explained to her, down to the notion of asking multiple choice questions to make it easier to collate data from tons of people. She was fascinated, and asked if I would "give her a survey" when we got home. I agreed, but she and I got sidetracked going to McDonald's.

When we got home, Jean and Kelly started playing indoor soccer with a punch-balloon. By the time that was over, it was time for Kelly to take her shower, then clean up her toys, then have her teeth cleaned, and by that time it was time for bed. She was disappointed that she hadn't gotten a survey, so she decided that I should give her one instead of reading to her. So I just started making up multiple-choice questions on the fly.

An example: "If you had to eat something yucky from the following list, which would it be? A worm (yuck!); boiled spinach (eeewww!); spoiled milk (uuggh!); a frog (puke!)." Kelly replied "I'll drink the spoiled milk!"

Another example: "If you could travel to one of the following countries, which would it be? Japan, Italy, England, or Mexico." Kelly immediately replied "Mexico!" and began to improvise a mariachi song. I enjoyed it, but I only later realized that she was trying to imitate the music she had heard at Mentor during the Cinco de Mayo celebration held there. After a little thought it occurred to me that if I'd offered her the choice of Germany she might have chosen that as well, since Mentor also has an Oktoberfest celebration.

All in all, the survey was a huge success, and Kelly has asked to have another survey for bedtime tomorrow night.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:35 PM

They Call Me Trinity

Kelly's friend Trinity came to visit today. I missed the first few minutes 'cause I did the grocering, but Jean tells me that Kelly was so excited to have Trinity over that she couldn't bring herself to eat a breakfast. This showed, because Kelly was very possessive of her toys the whole morning. I tried to intervene a few times, but this only made things worse.

Trinity is from Kelly's daycare, The Kid Connection. Jean says that the teachers there have told her that Kelly and Trinity are cut from the same cloth, both possessive, both gregarious. So when I came down on Kelly to behave and share her toys, Trinity twigged to it immediately, and began complaining that Kelly wasn't sharing, over every little thing.

We broke for lunch, and fed the kids PB&J sandwiches, chocolate milk, Cheetos, and for dessert, mint chocolate cookies and orange sherbet. That seemed to help, as Kelly became a little easier to live with after lunch. I wised up and took myself out of the mediation game. Shortly after, sitting in the den playing with my Pilot PDA, while Jean wrote on the computer, we heard Kelly and Trinity playing nice as you could wish.

Trinity's dad had never met us before, but he must be a trusting individual. He dropped Trinity off at 10:15am, and picked her up at about 2:45pm. I'd be a little nervous dropping Kelly off at someone else's house and leaving her there for four and a half hours. Even when I've known the parents, the first visit to their house was limited to about two hours. Guess I'm a conservative at heart "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 PM

January 26, 2001

Toy Jail Parole

Kelly ate her breakfast completely for the last few days. Unicorn is out of jail. Kelly is very proud of herself.

A side-effect, I think, is that Kelly has been striving to be helpful the last few days. I don't know how long that's gonna last.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:50 PM

January 25, 2001

Synchronicity Is My Middle Name

As I was riding home last night, I caught a short segment on Fresh Air about Bing Crosby. The guest made the case that Bing Crosby was, in his early years, something of a radical, introducing swing into a stodgier orchestral milieu. Unfortunately I didn't catch the guest's name. What I did catch was a rendition of From Morning On, which starts out as a corny barbershop tune, and transforms into a much more up tempo swing number.

I went home and immediately tried searching for it on Napster. I succeeded, and gave it another listen. It's actually pretty cool. I've since tracked it down to several CD's, so I'll probably be picking one up, such as Bix and Bing.

So now for the synchronicity. I was browsing Robot Wisdom during my lunch, when what should I see but a pointer to a review of a book on Bing Crosby by Gary Giddens called A Pocket Full of Dreams. That's not the full title, you can get that from the Atlantic Monthly book review pointed to above. In any case, the guest on Fresh Air was Gary Giddens. The synchronicity is not that I spotted two instances of an author flogging his new book, but rather that I spotted one instance on a snob radio show, and the other on an eclectic weblog. Go figger "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:03 PM

Terebi Dodges a Bullet

Dave Winer writes on Scripting News:

...Anyway, one of our machines is offline, the one hosting EditThisPage.Com, and a bunch of user sites. We will probably have to restore from a backup, but we're not totally sure at this time. We're going to find out how good our backup system is...

Dave's company, Userland, runs three (free!) weblogging sites (albeit running the same server software): Weblobs.com, Manilasites.com and Editthispage.com. It's the third site which took the hit, but it coulda been me! I gotta figure out how to back up this site...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:58 AM

January 24, 2001

Exodus Synchronicity

Funny thing. As I was driving home last night, I was listening to NPR News, and they were doing an in-depth story on the California power crunch. One of their tidbits was an interview with an executive of Exodus, who assured the interviewer that they had their own diesel generators ready to go online for each cluster of servers they own.

So I don't know why things have been so sluggish of late.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:43 AM

January 23, 2001

Kaiju Best Fighto!

Kaiju means "mysterious beast" in Japanese, and is also the source of inspiration of Kaiju Big Battel. Created by the Borden brothers, and supported by a fleet of actors, cameramen, set and costume builders and more, this Boston-based performance group puts on a unique form of entertainment.

From their website, we learn:

What is Kaiju Big Battel?

Look out! Danger Can Happen! Kaiju have the many monsters which are making destruction the whole city! Also in the fair fight, the referee Justice keeping Dr. Cube from throw building at the mighty Silver Potato! See bizarre wrestling matches between gigantic absurd monsters! Watch Tokyo-style monster movie erupt into real life performance-art lunacy! Shudder as Hell Monkey plucks the wings off American Beetle, while Club Sandwich liquefies Kung-fu Chicken Soup! Buy our monster-produced fashion accessories and novelty items! Collect them All! We Are Monsters! Kaiju da yo!

What it is is a group of white boys (and girls) putting on faux Japanese monster wrestling matches, in WWF-style wrestling rings, surrounded by cardboard-cutout cities. A lot of humorous antics ensue.

So who do you suppose sprung for a videotape of one of these performances? Who plans to share this with his five-year old daughter and his friends? You guessed! And it arrived yesterday. With luck Kelly and I will be able to watch it soon, at which time I'll report back here.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:54 PM

Toy Jail Gala Opening

This morning was the grand opening of the Toy Jail(tm).

Kelly decided that eating breakfast at school wasn't so much fun after all. They didn't let her play with her friend Brianna while eating breakfast (or not eating it, as the case may be). So yesterday she started back on the breakfast-at-home gig. Yesterday she dragged her heels, and ended up eating very little.

This morning she tried it again, and I could see a trend developing. So I told her that she had to eat what was on the plate or be punished. Time came to leave, and she hadn't made a dent in it. I told her, "looks like it's time to open up the Toy Jail." She tried to tell me what I could and couldn't take, but of course I wasn't having any of that. I decided to go easy on her, and didn't take her 'very favoritest' stuffed animal, her huge stuffed dog. Instead I took a stuffed unicorn which I know she likes.

There were no screams or tears, so I guess that's good. It could mean I didn't choose well enough. Tonight I'll explain to her how to parole her unicorn ("eat your breakfast every day when told for one week"). If that doesn't work, unicorn goes on a long trip to the Goodwill truck at Fred Meyers. Next animal will then be big-stuffed-dog.

Reports as things develop.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:51 PM

Idiot Vector

Jean took Kelly to her dance class yesterday. As Kelly was dancing, in a small class with maybe two other students, Jean noticed a mother sitting with a child on her lap, seemingly in pajamas. Jean struck up a conversation, and it turns out the child was in her pajamas because she had the flu! This was apparently her first day out in a week.

"This is the sickest I've ever seen her." said the woman.

"Well, she's not contagious now, is she?" asked Jean.

"I don't guess so," said the woman.

"Does she have a fever?"

"Well, it was a little over 99 degrees this morning."

Jean didn't know what to say after that. It isn't like the kid had a cold. She had a flu, and was "the sickest I've ever seen her." The woman seemed to be waiting for Jean to say "that's okay."

When Jean and Kelly left, she made Kelly wash her hands, since the older sister was in the dance class. Let's hope this idiot's clueless selfishness didn't rub off on Kelly.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:21 PM

Sluggish Service

I can't complain since this is all free, but Weblogs.com is sluggish as hell right now. I'm wondering if the rolling blackouts in California have anything to do with this. Traceroute reveals that this site is hosted by exodus.net, located in Santa Clara, California.

Even if the server is not directly in California, it's possible that Exodus is feeling enough of a crunch from it's California customers to be shifting traffic to servers they own outside the state. I don't really know, or understand how this works.

So if you're having difficulty reaching the site from time to time, all I can do is ask for your patience. Thanks.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:52 PM

CTHD Wide Release

Of course, the very Friday following my exceptional Wednesday night sojourn downtown to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Regal Cinemas does the uncharacteristic thing and picks up a subtitled foreign film for wide release. Ain't that a kick in the head?

Their track record is exactly the opposite, ignoring foreign or indie films, or consigning them to one or two theatres in downtown Portland. They seem to assume that folks in the suburbs don't want access to quality films. So I think I was justified in my approach of catching it while it was at Cinema 21, but it would have been nice to have some notice.

I went with my "NOVA" friends on Saturday night to see the film Snatch, which is a British comic crime film about assorted losers trying to get a 28 carat diamond--for the money or to save their lives. Guy Ritchie directs this movie, his second effort two years after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which I also saw on a "NOVA" night.

Both movies do a damn fine job at telling one of my favorite kinds of story, the Comic Crime story. Another example of this is The Hot Rock which was based on a Donald E. Westlake novel. Another is The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. And just about any movie made from an Elmore Leonard novel.

But I digress "qbullet.smiley". While we were getting our tickets we observed a huge line inside the theatre lobby. Folks in front of us were getting tickets for CTHD, and the ticket seller was informing them that only front row seats were left. Apparently, CTHD had been selling out all showings in all theatres since it opened in the Regal chain. Checking box office numbers, I find that the total earnings since it opened on October 9th is $37m, but that it's weekend earnings since wide release are $6m. That makes it the number eight earner for the weekend, against such filsms as Castaway and Finding Forrester. So folks have just been waiting for it to come somewhere other than the art theatre at the far north of town!

Maybe I'll be able to see foreign films at a suburban theatre after this. Yeah, right.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:05 PM

January 19, 2001

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Okay, it's Friday, but I needed to mull this one over. Alan and a friend of his whose name I've forgotten, Tom, James and I went downtown Wednesday night to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Wednesday nights are usually a night when I do self-paced study, so I did a deal with Jean to stay out somewhat later and went to the movie.

Alan was somewhat disappointed, having seen a million Wu Xia movies before. I have too, but I didn't buy into the hype, so I didn't have inflated expectations. This was clearly an Ang Lee movie, to anyone who has seen any of his other films, from Taiwan or Hollywood. While he was careful to include nearly every requisite setting (Governor's compound, wayside, restaurant, forest) for the martial arts sequences, there was a great deal of attention paid to character.

Much of the acting was very subdued, with a lot of subtle dialogue. Even so, I didn't feel that there was a huge amount of character development. Rather, the choice of Chow-Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh and other cast members allowed their rather intense screen presence to boost the drama to a higher level. When two actors can sit quietly, amiably drinking tea, and charge the scene with energy, something is being done right.

This picture opened here for one week at a local art theatre, Cinema 21. It's the only place it's showing in town, and the house has been full for all showings, according to reports I've received from friends and acquaintances. It was packed full when we went, and when we left, there was a line around the block for the 9pm showing. The local megaplex chain hasn't picked it up yet, but they'd be idiots not to.

Is this the best martial arts movie ever? No, it's not. It is very good, with some interesting fight sequences and reasonably cool wire work. But really it is a hybrid. At the risk of sounding Hollywood High Concept, it is Sense and Sensibility meets Fong Sai Yuk. That is to say, a parlor drama crossed with a martial arts fantasy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)

January 17, 2001

QOTD

Anent Hemingway:

Inside every hypermacho stud is a girlyman fighting to get out.

Heather Henderson

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:51 PM

Breakfast Club Meets Peyton Place

I've been watching Kelly at her Bridgeport breakfasts, and I think she's working things out. Her friend Brianna was sitting with her when I left yesterday, and yesterday evening she affirmed that they had eaten together.

I was worried that she was eating alone, because initially she was chattering to Brianna (according to the teacher) without actually taking the time to eat before class started. Her teacher Mrs. Wentzell had to separate them initially.

Brianna has a cousin named Johanna (I've since determined) who elected herself Brianna's guardian, practically dragging her away from Kelly so she wouldn't "get in trouble." This kid is about a year older than Kelly and Brianna, and so damn earnest in a stool pigeon sort of way that I just let it go.

So yesterday was apparently a turning point, if Kelly is to be believed, since Johanna didn't 'intervene' in Kelly and Brianna's little breakfast club. More on this as things develop...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:16 AM

Hide In Plain Sight

The phrase hide in plain sight is a part of our cultural vocabulary. You won't hear it in casual conversation very often, but it occurs frequently in written works.

I knew that there was a movie of the same name, and found a book with that title after a brief search. News stories and essays are a favorite playground for this phrase as well.

I haven't had much luck searching etymological dictionaries on the net to track the origins of the phrase. Poe's The Purloined Letter is the earliest example I know of the concept, though he doesn't ever use the phrase:

"At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a trumpery fillagree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantel-piece. In this rack, which had three or four compartments, were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter...

"No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be
that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was, to all appearance,
radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so
minute a description ...

"But, then, the radicalness of these differences ... were strongly
corroborative of suspicion, in one who came with the intention to
suspect."

Cryptographic lore contains a notion of hiding a message in plain sight, called steganography. One cute example of this is Spammimic, which will hide your treasured message in a faux spam email. Be careful if you use this, since spam is now under legal assault (and about time too).

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 AM

January 16, 2001

Writing for an Audience

There's a joke that's probably as old as Vaudeville, where a speaker says something like this:

I've received many kind comments from my fans, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank both of you.

This isn't very far from the truth. Terebi has one confirmed reader, my sister. It might have as
many as two other regular readers, though neither have informed me in
email that they do or don't read the log, so I have to go with
one confirmed reader.

Now granted, if I look at the most read messages, I have to assume that some of these people are
stopping to actually read my essays. I know people often just
come, look at a page and move on, but my Furi Kuri review
has had 366 hits to date! I have to assume that maybe ten percent of
those visitors actually read the thing.

Still, Terebi doesn't have enough traffic to rise to the level of
having a demographic "qbullet.smiley". So why do I insist on writing
this as if I were addressing an audience of more than three? Especially
as I range over topics which are bound to be a total bore to most of
those three?

Well, why for centuries have some people kept journals where
every entry began "Dear Diary", or more baroquely, "Dear Reader?"
Because, I believe, it motivates one to place those thoughts in
print. Otherwise we'd all just run around churning our internal
monologue like everybody, and accomplish much the same thing.

Not the same thing, really. When you write for an audience, even a
presumed audience, you actually have to pull your thoughts out
and structure them. Sometimes you have to think about the motivating
pressures behind the day's events, sometimes you actually admit you did
something stupid or embarassing, rather than just engaging in
"Esprit d'Escalier". Have I admitted to stupid-fu yet?
"qbullet.smiley"

Finally, writing here in public, presuming a wider audience, a phantom
presence which in my mind is a composite of my friends and some
sympathetic strangers, I let it hang out somewhat. I'll always assume a
role, when in public, constraining the tooth-gnashing id which rages in
my head, but you'll still see a little more of me here than when I'm
just talking about family, or just talking about computer games, or
just--you get the idea.

Besides, this is all very ephemeral. Any day now, the Userland folks may
decide to take their ball and go home. Then this entire web site
disappears into the mist. Or maybe not. In any case, I'll
write my words in the sand as if somebody will see them before the tide
comes in.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:03 PM

Turducken, the Sequel!

For folks like my wife, horrified at the excess that is turducken, I have two words:

Corndog Soup

"qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:34 PM

January 15, 2001

Quote of the Day

For Geeks Only:

Chat Apps Over Freenet:
In case you're wondering, yes, we know that chatting over Freenet is a fairly insane idea due to the lag. We're going to do it anyway because we are in fact insane.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:50 AM

January 13, 2001

Field Report

Jean made it to her lecture, and was fascinated and saddened at the same time. The crime science was fascinating, but it is clear that it is a competitive field, so any dream, however remote, of doing it herself, becomes more remote still.

Kelly and I did the grocering, and I tried to find some shoes which would look non-sneakerish while providing Nike arch and pronation level support. No go. I'll continue looking. The bike adjustment trip is postponed until sometime during the week. It seems they have no mechanic on the weekend, which is just plain silly.

We all went up to Beaverton, because Jean wanted to pick up touch-up paint for her new car, to protect from future dings. I got some for the hatchback too. At only $5, it's a reasonable preventative measure. Then I suggested we go to Tower Records, so I could look for Moshi Moshi or a Barcelona album. We went, they didn't have either, but Jean bought two CD's, by Bobby Darin and Patsy Cline. We listened to them on the way to Mentor to take our walk.

Kelly decided that she should get a treat too, so after our walk I took her to Fred Meyer to buy a video. She bought The Land Before Time VII. Not too bad, by direct-to-video standards, but not top of the heap either.

Now the night is winding down, and I guess I'll be giving Kelly her bath in around fifteen minutes. Then it's off to attack that huge pile of reading "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:13 PM

Planck's Anniversary

The December 9, 2000 issue of New Scientist has an essay on the anniversary of Max Planck's formulation which laid the foundations for quantum mechanics. The formula is E = hf, where E is energy, f is the frequency of black-body radiation, and h is the new constant, first and last of the Twentieth Century, Planck's Constant.

Before you cackle, yes, I've just finished this issue, and have two in the chute. I'm also reading the January issue of the Atlantic Monthly. And I'm still only a third of the way through the Nixon biography I started ages ago. Get over it.

The thrust of this post is to share a little quote from the essay, written by Graham Farmelo. It is not directly applicable to the gist of the essay, but noted a phenomenon I hadn't noticed before. Here we go:

Quantum theory overturned the universally accepted notion that energy was smooth and continuous, and replaced it with the realisation that it is fundamentally granular and discrete. This led scientists to dub the previous framework of physics as "classical"--an exquisite example of retro labelling", like "snail-mail" and "acoustic guitar".

The emphasis is mine, and picks out his term retro labelling for the phenomenon of usurping an established cultural edifice by labelling it as the exception. I'm going to have to talk with Jean about this 'phase-change', but if anyone reading this has more examples, please share.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:02 PM

Field Trip

Jean is going on a field trip this morning! She'll be going to a community center in King City to hear Beth Carpenter, director of the Oregon State Crime Lab, speak on forensic science. Jean has always been interested in criminal science, and is particularly interested in forensic anthropology. I think the talk will be broader in coverage than that, but she should still find it fun.

I wish I could go too, but Kelly would be entirely too fidgety sitting listening to a presentation on a subject that's generally over her head. So I'll do some errands with Kelly instead, such as getting my shoe size at Pay-less Shoes, doing the grocery shopping, or taking my bike in to have the cables adjusted. We'll just have to see...

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 AM

Accident

Yesterday, as Jean was on the road to pick Kelly up from daycare, she witnessed an accident. On the sidewalk parallel to Boone's Ferry Road, which is a busy road, not a neighborhood side street, a kid was riding his skateboard. He darted out across the street right in front of the car in front of Jean! The driver didn't have time to stop, and hit the kid. Jean actually saw the kid's feet above the driver's windshield

Jean was able to stop, and after a few moments, she saw the kid get up, amazingly enough. He was very pale, but appeared unharmed. Of course, you never know in this sort of situation. Jean had to go get Kelly, so she gave the driver her name and phone number, telling him that she could witness that it wasn't his fault. Then she went to get Kelly, promising to come back and give a statement to the police.

Kelly was difficult, wanting to stay and play with some new toys that Kid Connection had gotten. She pushed things so far that Jean finally threatened punishment. I said she should have punished her, by putting a toy in Toy Jail, but Jean said "next time."

When she got back to the scene of the accident, the police were there, and they took her statement, which consisted of stating that:

The police seemed satisfied and sent her on her way. I told Jean that the evidence seemed clear, and there were enough other witnesses to corroborate that they probably didn't need more than confirmation from her. So now we wait, to see if the kid's parents try something stupid like suing the driver for hitting their son.

I told Jean that if the kid had died, there would have been a trial for manslaughter, but that in reality, it should have been more like an investigation into a suicide. Jean remarked that there's a legal term for this, 'death by misadventure.'

We've taken to holding Kelly's hand in parking lots because she still forgets and runs in the lot. So I think that kid's parents should be just as responsible, and take away his skateboard until he can learn to stay on the sidewalk. Or at least take him to the Tualatin Skate Park.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM

January 11, 2001

Closure Achieved

Jean told me today that she succeeded in meeting with the auto shop instructor at Tigard High School to sign over the Ford. So now we are back to a two-car family. Insurance has been switched, everything.

The funny thing is that the instructor remembered that we'd donated our old Mazda 323 awhile back. He still had it, and it was "all fixed up". The school wanted to sell it, but apparently still needed some release signature from us. But they didn't have the correct number for us, two of the digits were transposed. So Jean was able to help them with that too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:32 PM

Cleveland Rocks! Kelly Rolls (Her Head).

Another hit on the Napster parade last night, from an album I've always enjoyed (owned two different copies, as I recall), "You're Never Alone With A Schizoprenic".

This was one of Ian Hunter's solo albums. He's probably known better to many as the lead for Mott the Hoople, and singer of All the Young Dudes. But Cleveland Rocks still really does it for me.

After listening to this song in the dark kitchen hooked up to my iBook with a pair of headphones, I had the tune bouncing around in my head this morning as I drove Kelly to Bridgeport. So after awhile, I bust out with "All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin' Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks..." and so on. After a little bit more, Kelly pipes up with "no it doesn't, Cleveland is boring."

Well, I did time in Ohio, and let me tell you, of all the towns I visited for one reason or another, Cleveland does indeed rock. I saw John Prine there, Bonnie Raitt, Buckwheat Zydeco, Throwing Muses, They Might Be Giants, the list goes on and on. So by god, I wasn't going to let this go by "qbullet.smiley". I rattled off the list of musicians above and said, "so yes Kelly, Cleveland does rock."

Kelly then resorted to invention. "My friend Ashley is from Cleveland" (she's not), "and she thinks Cleveland is boring." So I explained to Kelly the statistical notion of sample bias. In this context, since the only people she knows from Cleveland have left Cleveland, she only knows people who think Cleveland doesn't rock. But the folks who stayed in Cleveland, whom she hasn't met, probably agree with me that Cleveland rocks!

Kelly insisted that Ashley thought poorly of Cleveland, so I said I'd ask Ashley why, the next time she came over. "You can't ask her, because she's shy." What if I reminded Kelly to ask her for me? "Just forget it." So I could see I'd backed her into a corner, and as we were approaching the school, I went into a fake panic...

"Where are we?" I said. "Is this Kid Connection?"

"No, Dad! This is Bridgeport."

"But aren't I supposed to be bringing you to the Kid Connection? I forget!"

Now smiling, "no Dad, it's regular school first."

"Whew! For some reason I forgot where I was supposed to be!"

So I let Kelly off the hook for inventing foes of Cleveland's rock-ness, but I just had to see how far she would go into her invented world. Once inside the school, Kelly lost all interest in Cleveland and ran to the cafeteria window.

Stolen shamelessly off of www.hunter-mott.com:

Cleveland Rocks
Three! Four!
Three! Four!
Three! Four!

(Bunch of Ah-ah-ah's here)

All this energy calling me
Back where it comes from
It's such a crude attitude
It's Back where it belongs
All the little kids growing up on the skids are goin'
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Jumpin' (Jean) Gene genies, moody James Deanies goin'

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Mama knows but she don't care
She's got her worries too
Seven kids and a phony affair
And the rent is due
All the little chicks with the crimson lips go
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
She's livin'in sin with a safety pin
She's goin' Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

I got some records from World War Two
I'll play 'em just like me Grand dad do
He was a rocker and I am too
Oh Cleveland Rocks, Yeah Cleveland Rocks
So find a place
Grab a space
and yell and scream for more

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks
Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks

(Bunch of Ah-ah-ah's here)

Three! Four!
Three! Four!
Three! Four!
Ohio

http://www.ohio.com/justgo/drew/docs/006507.htm

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:44 PM

Music 'Til Midnight

I've been a bad boy. Instead of getting a good night's sleep on a work night, I stayed up until midnight sampling songs off of Napster. What triggered this is that Jason Kottke, a guy who has previously steered me right (via his weblog), mentioned a song by the group Barcelona. It's called I've Got the Password to Your Shell Account, pointed to in MP3 format from, as it turns out, their record label. Last night I didn't know that, and went through the agony of downloading it via Napster.

This song was featured on a compilation album of various artists from around the globe, titled Moshi Moshi. I listened to another artist featured on that CD, Girlfrendo, from Sweden. The song was "Cat Heaven". I think I like it, though as I was searching for information about it I stumbled across a review of the band on Amazon which captures it's peculiar saccharine qualities:

...Girlfrendo could be classified as "balloon-shop music" -- it's colorful, light as helium, and effortlessly nostalgia-inducing, especially if you went to elementary school during the 80's.

In any case, I've added Moshi Moshi to my list of CDs to purchase in the near future. http://www.bigorangecrayon.com/music/various-moshimoshi.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:11 PM

January 10, 2001

Oni

One of my coworkers gave me a Zip disk with a 77MB demo of Oni for the Macintosh. Since the iBook has enough power to run it, I tried it out.

While I've never played more than a demo of Tomb Raider before, I've also watched my friend Alan play, and I have to say that Oni has a feel similar to it. Just substitute Konoko for Lara Croft, and high tech robots 'n' aliens for tigers, gorillas and such, and you've made the transition.

I only went through the training mode last night, with Kelly serving as cheerleading section ("you did good, Daddy!"). Using this game with a mouse and keyboard is going to be tedious, and if I do end up buying it, it'll be for the PS2, since then I'll have a gamepad.

Right now, I'm not sure I'll buy it at all, since the first blush of the demo makes me think it is more shooter/fighter than clever in any special way. I was really initially interested in it for the anime theme, but given that this seems like a thin veneer on top of Tomb Raider, I'm not so sure now. Later reports as I have time to play the demo.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:59 AM

I Want Closure

The final step in our transition from old to new cars became a two-step this morning. I dropped off my car at the Tigard High School, to donate to their auto shop. However, the teacher wasn't there to sign the paperwork. It turns out he had a root canal that couldn't wait (I've been there, it sucks).

So now Jean is going to drop by and run through the paperwork on her way to work tomorrow. Estimated value of the vehicle as a donation on our 2001 taxes: $600. Whoopee.

On another front, I went to "NOVA" this weekend, and my 13" television only just fit into the trunk, so I won't be buying any 19" television/VCR combos. If flat televisions with 19" screens ever drop below a few hundred bucks, maybe I'll buy one of those, but who am I kidding?

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:12 AM

January 09, 2001

School Breakfasts

The experiment continues. Kelly told Jean yesterday that she enjoyed her breakfast, even though she told me that she didn't want to eat it, and that she was interested in going back to breakfast at home. At this point I don't know what to think, but I'm going with the flow...

As I dropped Kelly off this morning, an as yet unidentified girl ran up behind Kelly and shouted her name. Kelly didn't introduce me. When they both sat down, girl X (as I'll call her) told me that "Kelly and Brianna aren't allowed to sit together, 'cause Kelly doesn't eat!" Useful information, that. Brianna showed up and started to sit near Kelly, and girl X reminded her that she'd "get in trouble."

I took my leave then, congratulating girl X on being such a good policeman (snarky, I know, but she didn't seem to notice the sarcasm). I was halfway to the door when Kelly shouted to me, "she's not a policeman, Dad!" These kids are just full of useful info "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 AM

Odd or Even?

Jean and I have been reading yet another treasure book from Jean's childhood, Tales From Moominvalley, one of a whole series of books about the Moomintrolls and other neighboring races. It's interesting to me that I never heard of any of these books. Well, I'd heard of Harriet, the Spy, but not until I was an adult. I read Star Trek novels, Jules Verne, tons of Golden Age science fiction, Lord of the Rings, but never, it seems, lots of great juvenile and child fiction. So I'm catching up now.

Back to the point. Jean and I take turns reading tales from this book to Kelly at bedtime. I read first, then Jean reads. This is because Kelly tends to want to play with me, and she settles down with Jean. So I was in the middle of a tale where Moominpappa leaves home to learn about the mysterious Hattifatteners, when my time ran out.

I left, and Jean picked up the story. After a little while, Jean called me into Kelly's bedroom, to have Kelly show me something. Apparently, in the story, Moominpappa notices that the Hattifatteners always travel in groups of three, five, seven, in other words always an odd-numbered group, never even. Kelly asked Jean what odd was, so Jean demonstrated that odd means you can take away pairs until there is only one left.

Kelly took great joy in showing me how many fingers were odd, how many fingers and toes were odd, and so on. Jean would name a number (under twenty-one) and Kelly would count off pairs until she had no pairs, leaving nothing or one finger, when she'd announce "Odd!" or "Even!"

So I'm inordinately proud that she's twigged to such an abstract mathematical notion, and I'll have to restrain myself from becoming a 'math pappa'. I personally think that mathematics contains disciplines of intense beauty and reward, and I hope she continues to be interested in these ideas as she grows. I worry about the invisible barriers which discourage girls from pursuing science and math interests, so I've got to be clever and look for opportunities like the Moomintroll books to tweak her interest.

And in the meantime, I'm going to have to fight myself and wait a few years to explain prime numbers to her "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:05 AM

January 08, 2001

Kelly News

Not too much to report here. Kelly accompanied us on the new car pickup, walks and grocery shopping over the weekend, and otherwise did the usual play and cartoon watching. We went to Toys 'R' Us on Sunday, to buy a new carseat for Kelly to put in the hatchback. She has grown enough that nothing I can do will make her current carseat fit her body anymore.

While we were there, Kelly took her Toys 'R' Us gift card and used it to buy a Barbie Ballerina. She had me tying Barbie's toe shoes over and over on the way home.

It looks as if the eat-at-school experiment may be over. This morning, Kelly took one look at the pizza served for breakfast this morning at Bridgeport and said "I don't want to eat this". I told her it was her only choice for now. But "if you want to start eating at home again, we can do that tomorrow." "Okay," she said. We'll see tonight if she still feels that way.

I think she's more disappointed that her friend Brianna isn't showing up the same time she is. She clearly had the image in her mind of the two of them eating and playing together before class started.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:36 AM

Traffic

After "NOVA" I went with Alan to see Traffic, a Steven Soderbergh film. This movie is getting a lot of promotion, despite being a 2 hour, 20 minute movie, shot frequently with handheld cameras. I think the studio is trying to position it for Oscars though typically such movies show toward the end of the year.

Anyone reading this site would probably be able to divine that I'm pretty liberal (U.S. political sense), though I'm not a Card Carrying Liberal(tm), since I'm not registered with the Democratic Party, the party in America most often associated with the word 'liberal'. Of course you also know that I think the Democrats are frequently indistinguishable from the Republicans (not always, but on many issues that matter to me). So it's no surprise I'm not a Democrat.

What's this got to do with Traffic? Well, depending on your political cant, it can be seen as a dramatic portrayal of the insidious evils of drugs, or as an indictment of the War On Drugs. I think it is clearly the latter, but I can put on my 'pretend conservative' hat and see shades of the former as well. But since I call it the War On Some Drugs, or the War On the Bill of Rights, well, you get the picture "qbullet.smiley".

Traffic follows three story lines, which intertwine to some degree. It tells a good story, and I at least didn't notice that the film ran more than two hours. When it was done, Alan commented that he had not expected the film to be so good.

I'm not going to review this film, just comment that it is a thoughtful film, and that it contains quite a lot of good acting, chief performance being that of Benecio Del Toro. If you can bring yourself to sit through a movie which lasts more than two hours, and are not offended by the notion that the War on Drugs is not necessarily a holy war, then I'd suggest this movie without hesitation.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:07 AM

Fearsome Food

Saturdays twice a month, typically first and third Saturdays, are my evenings to go to "NOVA" meetings. Often, I go out to eat with a few friends during part of the meeting, and go to a movie after the meeting.

This weekend was no different. We went to Fuji Teriyaki, a restaurant we'd been to in the past. I've ordered sushi there before, but to be a little different, I ordered their "Chef's Favorites" plate. This included a number of things I wouldn't order myself, including octopus and fish roe.

I ate most of the items without incident, in fact with pleasure. Eventually, I got down to a few items, and was looking at one piece of 'fish' which I could not recognize. It was sort of a dark mustard yellow, and looked like a little tongue to me. I thought, "oh well, here goes" and popped it into my mouth. After a moment it was clear that the taste was unlike anything I'd had before, and I decided to give it a couple of seconds to sink in. Then the smell hit my sinuses! Ye gods, it was like eating mentholated pudding!

Between the texture, the taste and the smell, I had no intention of swallowing this stuff. Fortunately there was a spare napkin nearby, and I disposed of the item as discreetly as possible. Then I had two or three quick swallows of Dr. Pepper to try to flush the taste. Tom, Alan and James were pretty amused.

As we were leaving, I saw a photo menu which identified the mystery meat as Sea Urchin. I'd already been warned by my reading to stay away from Natto (fermented bean curd) and Sea Cucumber, but now I know to add Sea Urchin to the list. My Western tongue just can't handle it.

I think this falls into the category of Foods Which Smell Spoiled, But We'll Eat It Anyway 'Cause We're Starving. How else to explain Limburgher cheese?

This cheese smells like cowflops! I guess I'll put it in my mouth!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:41 AM

Nearly New Car News

Now that Jean has her new car, I inherit the hatchback, a Honda Civic DX, manual transmission, with just 9,000 miles on it. The Ford Escort is in the driveway, awaiting 'disposal'. I'm still getting used to the clutch, and working out the controls for the radio, headlights, wipers, air conditioning, etc. But on the whole it feels more stable than the Escort. It seems a little faster to accelerate, but has less power overall; on a steep incline, I gradually slow down. This happened with the Escort too, but not so quickly.

One funny thing. The hatchback has an FM radio, while the Escort had just AM. Over the years of driving the Escort, I've gotten used to the quirks and limitations of AM. For instance, passing under highway overpasses, an AM radio signal fades. FM doesn't. Passing near high tension lines on a rainy day, the static makes the radio unlistenable. FM is more robust.

In fact, driving the Escort back and forth to Oregon Graduate Institute while I was getting my degree, I got so used to these quirks, that I came to 'hear' passengers' voices drop when we went under underpasses. My brain just expected the 'signal' to drop when we went under all that concrete "qbullet.smiley"!

So I'm really enjoying a stable signal while I drive. Another thing is that when I'm driving in the evening on a Saturday, such as when I am going to a movie with friends after a "NOVA" meeting, I have a better selection of stations. I'm not limited to listening to, I kid you not, "Cigar Dave", 'The General' and host of Smoke This. That's the only show I can get at that time of night, and I don't even smoke cigars! Now I can listen to a variety of music, thank goodness.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:03 AM

New Car News

We got the new car, a Honda Civic EX Sedan. We paid about $17K for it, and Jean seems to love it. It's a manual, which we both prefer, has cruise control, which we may use if we drive to the coast, otherwise probably not. Jean is just tickled to have a CD player in her car. She's been playing Kelly's Anne Murray CD, and has her Dean Martin CD waiting in the wings. Unfortunately she has already exercised one of the security features of the new car...

In addition to having an alarm system on this car (with keyless entry, OOooh!), the radio/cd player will refuse to work if it has had an interruption of power, say if somebody steals it. To return it to functionality, you must enter a special security code. If you fail to enter it correctly in ten tries, you must take it to the dealership to have it reset.

So apparently Jean left the dome light on overnight, and even though the car started without a problem, the radio refused to work. She's got the manual with her now and intends to try to reset the radio on getting home from work. She's not sure if she likes this new feature!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:48 AM

January 05, 2001

Quiet Before the Storm

I took off early from work (we have a thing called FTO--flexible time off--which lets me take fractional days off). The idea was to hit Costco this afternoon to pick up some specialty items I get there, like protein bars. That way, we could do an early grocery trip to Haggens tomorrow, and then shoot off to the car broker to close the deal on the Honda.

Things went smoothly and I'm here typing and eating a snack. Here's my culinary insanity: homemade bread with soy butter, water and a glass of Pinot Noir wine. Ever the connoisseur, I. "qbullet.smiley"

This all follows the hour of playing grab and squeal with Kelly. Apparently couches are 'safe'.

I heard from Jean that our little experiment of letting Kelly eat breakfast at school is not going smoothly. Apparently, on her second morning, today, she sat there not eating until her class bell rang, then tried to make the teacher wait while she nibbled at her food. Of course, Mrs. Welch wasn't having any of that. So we're going to give her a few more days to get into it, and if she has more bad days than good, we'll pull the plug on the experiment.

In the meantime, Kelly is conducting her own experiment, trying to see how many interruptions I can handle and still write this article. I think we just found out "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:09 PM

January 04, 2001

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'!

Yow! Things move either extraordinarily slow or too damn fast to see around here. For several months Jean and I have been looking into getting a car to replace my aging Ford Escort. Actually, I'll inherit Jean's relatively new Honda Civic DX hatchback, and she'll get the brand new car.

We got the hatchback several months ago to replace Jean's Mazda, and we paid cash for it. This is our policy with cars, only buy what you can afford if you have to pay for it all in one lump sum. It simplifies negotiations a lot, and tends to cut the price. I didn't think we'd be buying another new car any time soon. I expected that I'd buy another used car to replace the Ford, and Jean would retain the hatchback.

But some surprise money came our way, and Jean expressed the desire for a slightly nicer car. So we began the hunt. We settled initially on a Subaru Impreza DL wagon. We chose a dealer, got a good quote, but wanted a particular color, so we had to wait. The wait dragged on, and eventually, we found out that the salesman that we had dealt with had left the dealership.

So we reset the clock, expecting to take another couple of months. Jean decided on an entirely different car, a 2001 Honda Civic EX sedan. I called Frey International, a car broker we had used to get the hatchback, and to cut the story short, we are picking up the car on Saturday. Bam!

So I'm adjusting my lifestyle, since the hatchback has a smaller trunk than the Ford. Mainly this means that I've had to scramble to find a volunteer to take over hauling duties for the "NOVA" Archive material I transport in the back of the Ford twice a month. No pain, really, it looks like I've already found a volunteer.

My next lifestyle change may be to buy a television with a VCR built in, since then I'd only have to haul one heavy object. So I guess overall this is an improvement. But damn it happened quick!

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:38 PM

Cookies from Afar

I just got a package from Nami, my penpal in Japan. It contained 'bourbon cookies', and while I haven't had any yet, Jean says they're yummy. I have to remember to send her an email tonight, as I was too tired to do anything last night when I got home.

More importantly, I have to figure out what to get her for her birthday this year. It'll have to be something small, since I've spent most of my discretionary funds on Christmas stuff for the family. Any ideas?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:44 AM

Breakfast Experiment

Tuesday I took Kelly back to Bridgeport for the first time in a couple of weeks, due to the holidays. While we were sitting at the table waiting for her class bell, her friend Brianna arrived. Kelly was shouting "friend! Friend, sit here!" But Brianna needed to go get her breakfast at the school kitchen, so Kelly had to wait to see her.

I got to thinking, since we are trying to enforce breakfast for Kelly, and she wants to have some time with her friend, maybe we could combine the two. So today, Kelly began her experiment, getting breakfast at the school (for $1.10, quite reasonable). When I left her friend had not shown up yet. Since that was the point of letting Kelly eat at school, she may be disappointed, I don't know.

So we'll be running this experiment for a few days. If Kelly can't get enough food into her at school to behave during the school day, or if she decides that she doesn't like it (perhaps Brianna doesn't show up often enough, who knows), then we'll drop the experiment. More later...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:49 AM

Tosser or Corpse?

When I'm going to sleep at night, I must adjust my position at least once every couple of minutes. Jean tells me I continue the show into the night. Jean, on the other hand, barely moves. I swear that sometimes, she is in the same position when I wake up as she was when I went to sleep. How she can do that without getting bedsores is a mystery to me.

So what are you, a Tosser or a Corpse?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:37 AM

January 03, 2001

Whither Terebi?

I'm sold on weblogging, after three months using the weblogs.com facilities. It's fun, makes me reflect a little on my life, and let's me share my thoughts with friends and family in a single forum. By my count, today is the three month anniversary of Terebi.

But it is a free service, and free things have a way of going away. On today's Scripting News, Dave Winer (the host of weblogs.com) reflects:

We started our hosting services when "business models" promised to reward us for capturing users in some way, on the assumption that we could turn some of them into paying customers, someday.

He then notes that Pyra, hosts of Blogspot.com, another 'free' weblogging service, are asking their users for donations to buy new servers. I tried out their service when I was experimenting with weblogging, but I didn't care for their interface. Nevertheless I wish them luck.

After reading Dave's quote above, I sent him an email letting him know that I would pay to use this site and it's services (at most $5 per month, if you're curious). He thanked me for the feedback. Let's just hope my price curve and his meet. Thanks again for the ride so far, Dave "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:39 PM

Brat Pack Dead Pool

Jean and I came up with this one during our afternoon walk today. Who's going to go first? Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. is an easy pick, but stretch your imagination. Interestingly, he isn't even listed on Bratpack.net which defines the Brat Pack quite tightly by appearances in just two movies. http://www.bratpack.net/

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:11 PM

Ray Walston is Number Three

Looks like my bet on a political figure in the famous trio game is wrong. I'd have to say that Ray Walston definitely qualifies to join Victor Borge and Jason Robards.

Guess Billy Barty will have to start a minor trio, perhaps with Werner Klemperer? http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010103/re/people_walston_dc_4.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:05 PM

January 01, 2001

Long Weekend Update, Part Two

Monday was a day off. So I took the opportunity to break down boxes from Christmas for recycling, then went upstairs and cleaned up (trim hair, shower, that sort of stuff). I'm covered in hair, grime and sweat, when Jean walks into the bathroom and says \"Kelly wants to go to the 12:20 showing of 102 Dalmatians\". I look at the clock and it is 12:05. "Good luck!" I say. But Kelly is willing to try, so I hop into the shower and race through cleaning up.

Jean tells me while I shower that they are going downstairs to wait in the car. Sound hectic yet? I race through the drying and dressing, and have an inspiration. I grab my shoes and socks and coat and run downstairs barefoot, jumping into the car with Jean and Kelly. Kelly thinks it's funny that I'm putting on my socks and shoes in the car.

Anyway, to cut the story short, we made it, and saw the movie. Not too inspiring after having seen The Emperor's New Groove, which I highly recommend for children and adults.

After that we had lunch then went down to Mentor to go for a walk. Kelly logged twenty minutes before she voted to get in the stroller. We fed the ducks again, just in case the miracle didn't take hold on Christmas day "qbullet.smiley". We came home, I did the check balancing, and now I'm posting about our day. Next I think I'll have dinner.

Happy New Year, all of you!

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:02 PM

Long Weekend Update

I made it to midnight last night, but only in the most formal sense. After reading about Haskell for a large chunk of the evening (Jean watching a biography of Paul Linde, Kelly playing with dolls) we played games with Kelly for awhile. Jean had bought Kelly Mousetrap, so we played that for a bit, with simplified rules. Then we played Spoons, a card game Jean's parents taught Kelly. This one works better with more people, but Kelly had fun any way.

We got Kelly showered and conducted the ritual of the new year. This consists of wandering around the house banging pots and pans to chase away the evil spirits for another year. Needless to say, Kelly really gets into this part. At 10:30, we tucked her in and read her some stories. She was ready for bed without protest. Jean and I stayed up a little later, then retired to the bedroom.

I turned out the light, but I was playing games (Minehunt and the tile-matching variation of Mah Jongg) on my Palm Pilot in the dark. Backlit screens are so cool "qbullet.smiley". I'd been playing quietly in the dark for who knows how long when I heard fireworks going off. Check the clock on the Palm Pilot, midnight is here! The sound of the fireworks woke Jean up, and she gave me my first kiss of the new year!

So I rang in the new year, but no parties or watching balls descend in Times Square on television. Suits me just fine.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:46 PM

December 31, 2000

Geek Holiday

I woke up with a killer headache this morning. No apparent cause, and persistent as hell. I ate something healthy, then dumped two Alleve into my system. That did nothing to abate the throbbing, so I filled up a hot bath, drew a tumbler of R.C. Cola and soaked for a half hour. By then things were easing up enough for me to think, allowing me to review photos from Christmas, sampling a couple here for your viewing pleasure.

Now, aside from posting News Items to the Terebi weblog, what am I doing? Playing with functional programming languages, of course! I've been tinkering with Haskell for a couple of years, ever since I first had a class in functional programming at the Oregon Graduate Institute. It was taught by John Launchbury, a luminary in the functional programming arena. But there were key aspects of the language that I never could seem to wrap my head around.

I recently stumbled onto a paper written by Simon Peyton Jones, another luminary. It's titled Tackling the Awkward Squad: Monadic Input/Output, Concurrency, Exceptions, and Foreign-language Calls in Haskell. After fifteen pages, I found myself going, "Ooooohhhh! now I get it." This has sent me back to Hugs98, the interpreter I've got lodged on my laptop computer, and also drove me to download (at work only) a copy of the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC), which contains extensions described in the paper.

I am logged into work right now through a SSH encrypted terminal, running simple test programs to learn the ropes of GHC. So that's how I spend my holidays!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:16 PM

Will Work for Milk and Cookies

Presented entirely without commentary (okay, almost "qbullet.smiley"):

"Christmas Siesta"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:14 AM

My Christmas Angel

On Christmas morning I had an angel in my house, though at the time I thought she was a maniac, running shrieking from present to present. The camera reveals what the eye cannot see. To the left is a cropped and reduced sample of the photo that nearly stopped my heart as I was reviewing the digital photos that I took this year on Christmas morning.

Many of the photos were blurry, some were too dark, most were uninteresting. I got a few nice ones of Jean, a couple good ones of Kelly intent on her presents, and one or two nice ones of Jean's parents. But this photo of Kelly captures her beauty in a way that I didn't even see when I was running around taking the pictures. The original will be printed and placed in a hallowed place in my office at work, to remind me of my visit from the Christmas Angel.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 AM

December 29, 2000

A Game By Any Other Name

When I was growing up, we had a board game that I distinctly remember was called O Wa Ri. It was a mass-produced product, with the form factor of a typical Milton Bradley game. When you lifted the lid of the box, you were confronted with an injection-molded plastic board, spotted with bowl-like depressions. In a cloth sack were smooth stones which could be placed in these pits. It's been several decades since I saw that game, so I don't remember the exact details of the layout or how one played.

Recently, I was browsing games available for my Palm Pilot, and came across a game called Awele. When I downloaded it the docs referred to it as a version of Mancala. This all seemed vaguely familiar! A search on the Internet confirmed that what I was seeing was the game I played as a child.

Here is yet another version of the game for the Palm Pilot, this time called Owari!

According to this site, the rules are simple, but the complexity of play is great. Certainly, playing against the computer, I get my butt whooped most of the time. I need to play against another human. Maybe Kelly would like to try? The beauty of the game is that it can be played with just about any equipment. Fourteen salad bowls and a bunch of dried beans would do just fine. Hmmmm.

Then again, if I just want to get my butt whooped on the Internet, there's this Web-based version. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:33 PM

Top Gundam

A "name" (label) involves for a given individual a whole constellation or configuration of labeling, defining, evaluating, etc., unique for each individual, according to his socio-cultural, linguistic environment and his heredity, connected with his wishes, interests, needs, etc.

The Role of Language in the Perceptual Processes - Alfred Korzybski

When I first heard about Megami Kouhosei (The Candidate for Goddess), it was just a name, amongst a list of several anime coming out in the recent anime season. Some of the titles had capsule descriptions, others just a date and airtime. I don't really remember whether this series had a description or not, I only know that I made a note to try to see it in the future.

Time passed, and I forgot about it. Then Tom and Dan asked me if there were any anime I wanted to see (they each trade heavily in fansubs). The title The Candidate for Goddess sprang from my lips. But the image in my head was a cross between Card Captor Sakura and Ah, My Goddess.

You have to understand that I have a five-year old daughter, and much of my anime diet at home is of that genre lovingly nicknamed 'magical girl'. So the title took on a rather literal interpretation for me, and I had fuzzy notions of a young girl being given magical powers which made her a goddess.

Nothing, as it turns out, could be further from the truth...

Welcome to GOA, the Goddess Operator Academy. In the next three years, you and your four classmates will train in simulators (Cuarvals) and limited Automated Humanoid Weapons (AHW) known as PRO-INGs, to master the skills you will need if you are to become Pilots. Each cluster of students numbers five, which is the number of Ingrids fielded against the enemy. Each Ingrid is a full-capability battle robot, or AHW, piloted by one of the graduates of GOA.

Each Candidate Pilot is paired with a Candidate Repairer. Your success or failure depends on the success or failure of your Repairer, and vice versa. This pairing has been made for you. It is not negotiable. Life is not fair. This is war. Deal...

GOA orbits Zion, the last human-occupied planet (no Matrix jokes, please). It is the backdrop of this coming-of-age drama, and yet it remains an anonymous symbol throughout the series. We never see it's people, though it's possible we see the surface itself in some visionary dreams. This is the golden paradise for which the young men and women of GOA strive. So it is fit that they can only see it as a jewel suspended against the backdrop of stars.

Each Candidate is admitted because at a minimum they have the rare bloodtype EO, which sometimes indicates latent paranormal powers known as EX. Because of the demanding conditions of piloting the Goddesses against the enemy hordes, and the spiritual link which seems to exist between Pilot and Goddess, EX is a requirement. [As an aside, I find this EO-blood-factor especially amusing due to the Japanese propensity for treating blood type in the same league as eye color and zodiac sign (see Megumi Hayashibara's entry on Hitoshi Doi's Seiyuu pages for an example)]

Candidates are drawn from the slowly dwindling numbers of Colonies, space habitats preserving the terrain and lifeforms of old Earth. From one of these colonies comes Zero Enna, determined to become a Pilot at all costs. At a young age, his colony was nearly destroyed by the enemy, and anyone not in the shelters when the dome was shattered was sucked into space. Zero was one of these unfortunates, but he was saved by the White Goddess, Ernn Laties, and lived to see his colony dismantled, beyond repair. It is the sight of the noble Goddesses saving even a few which launches him on his quest to become Pilot.

So now he is at GOA, partnered with his Repairer, Kizna Towryk, a young woman with, inexplicably, cat ears! Given the discomfort she shows when they are mentioned, I at first assumed that they were some sort of genetic mutation. But Kizna also inexplicably wears dungarees with one leg cut off high on her thigh, while the other reaches regulation sneaker-top. So I guess she deserves to be taken about as seriously as anyone who wears one glove, or changes their name to an unpronounceable symbol.

Seeing his colony destroyed, witnessing the deaths of hundreds of people, have done nothing to dampen Zero's enthusiasm, or improve his tact. Within hours of entering GOA he has managed to send Kizna away in tears (quite unintentionally), make an enemy of his classmate Hiead Gnr, and nearly earn himself a demerit at the hands of his instructor, Azuma Hijikata.

Did I say this was a coming-of-age drama? Sorry, not for Zero. He is good-natured, but really shows no signs of maturing in the course of the series. I could fall back on Kizna, but she seemed quite mature from the start.

So humanity is at war, a war of survival, and it's best hope (as has always been the case when war beckons) is the cream of it's youth, a collection of emotionally immature, hyperactive, scheming hormone cases who, left to their own devices, would be hanging out the windows of their podracers shouting suggestively at young women as they buzz down the strip, flinging empty psychotropic beverage bulbs behind them while... Sorry. But it is a bit like Zion Hills: 90210.

Who is the enemy seemingly driving mankind to the edge of extinction? They are a mysterious assortment of CGI space creatures, owing their greatest resemblance to stingrays, jellyfish and squid, but of course spiffed up, armored and equipped with electron beam weapons. Nothing in the series suggests that they actually target human colonies, but if you are in the way, look out! To save the day, GOA quickly dispatches the Goddesses, and much splatting ensues.

For reasons not explained in the series, the alien enemy is called Victim (control panels in the show sometimes display the characters VKDM). For the longest time I thought this was intentional foreshadowing, and that by the end of the series it would be revealed that humankind had located most of its habitats on the migratory paths of Space Salmon, Space Geese, and dare I say, the venerable Space Moose?

So instead of being caught up in a war of extermination, it would turn out that we were a bunch of clueless nobblies building our stick hovels on those nice level patches of ground leading up to the watering hole, and we kept getting trampled by those damned evil pachyderms! Alas, it was not to be. At least not by the end of the series.

But shouldn't the end of the series be the definitive point when all is settled, once and for all? Of course not, you touchingly naive soul! This is anime! And the fact that The Candidate for Goddess was based on a manga which had not yet run it's course leaves this twelve-part series feeling more unfinished than some others I could name. Perhaps once Sugizaki Yukiru has finished her manga, they can get writer Okeya Akira to render another twelve episodes, and director Hongo Mitsuru will take the cast through another series of pimply angst and misplaced enthusiasm.

In the meantime, Victims are not the only strangely named participants in this drama. GOA's populace is divided into three classes, the 'cadets', the Pilots and the Staff. Among the cadets and their partners we have such shimmering monickers as Clay Cliff Fortran, Ikhny Allecto and (amonst the upperclassmen, next in line for Pilot) Force Wartlliam, Sure La Card, Erts Virny Cocteau, Una Kleik -- stop me if you're getting dizzy.

Let's skip the Pilots and go right to their vehicles, the Goddesses. We have the White Goddess, Ernn Laties, then Eeva Leena, Luhma Klein, Tellia Kalisto and Agui Keamiea. Is it just me, or does this begin to explain Kia and Corolla? As you can guess, it doesn't pay to watch this series without a character list. But does it pay at all? After twelve episodes and no strong resolution, do you just want to fling that tape against the wall?

I can only speak for myself. I'm not a big mecha-head. I actually enjoy the 'magical girl' shows I watch with my daughter. But when I discipline myself to sit down and watch a show like this, start to finish, I have to admit that the mecha are just window dressing, a substrate on which the body of the story is built.

This is really why Gundam works, though I've never been sucked into that 'endless waltz'. Another mecha show, Votoms, is heavier on the mecha eye-candy than Candidate, and in the Armor Hunter Mellowlink side-story, the repetitive deathblow kinda lowered the bar. But real stories do happen in mecha shows.

Sitting in this august company, The Candidate for Goddess is a typical ensemble piece, drawing strength from the interaction of the characters, while the focus centers on Zero Enna. So even though few of the characters can be said to grow, I wouldn't mind seeing them butt heads a few more times.

copyright (c) 2001 Donald P. Wakefield

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:24 AM

December 28, 2000

Hair Sucker

Kelly sucks her hair. Whenever it gets long enough to reach her mouth, she twirls it into a neat little loop and starts sucking, chewing. We began by keeping her hair short, but as she's gotten older, she's really taken an interest in growing her hair out. So we compromised by making a deal. Wear a barette to keep the hair out of your face and we'll let it grow, so long as it is neat.

Unfortunately, it got long enough that it whipped around anyway, and here we are again. So tonight Jean and Kelly had a confrontation, and out came the scissors. Just a nip, enough to get it away from her mouth again. But Kelly has clear notions of body space and ownership, and she was furious. Apparently she intends to skip daycare tomorrow, and isn't coming to our "New Year's Party" this weekend. That's where we stay up and bang pots and pans to scare away the bad spirits for another year "qbullet.smiley".

I got called in as judge, and I assured Kelly that her hair was not mangled by the trim. She isn't buying it, but she got cheerful enough when I started playing with her, so I expect she'll adjust.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:58 PM

Jealous

In a sense anyway.

Jean's sister, Ann, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She just got tenure! Congratulations, Ann!

Here's where I get jealous. Jean had what I believe is the perfect idea for a present for Ann. She just bought her a subscription to the Wine Advocate, which is the bi-monthly wine review magazine written by Robert Parker. On the one had, I wish I was getting it. On the other, I don't drink enough wine, or fancy enough wine, to really justify just buying it.

So instead, I'll just grump and be jealous. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:40 PM

Atlantic Monthly Maybe

Recall how I've bought the last two issues of Atlantic Monthly? Remember how I gushed about the article on Robert Parker the wine critic? Well, I just looked at the table of contents for January online, and it is another winner. So I've made up my mind to subscribe.

But. I can't find the stinkin' subscription card I filled out against that day! It's nowhere. And it had a sweet price! And they said on the card that prices go up in January! Gah! I guess the fates don't want me to subscribe after all.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:28 PM

The turducken stops here
(the complete longwinded rant!)

Hey, gang, who's up for turducken?

Whoah, '70s flashback! Truckin' in turduckens: Brushed suede, rubber soles, leather laces, sold alongside Wallabees and Earth Shoes. As in, "Bogus, dudes, who ralphed on my turduckens? Now what do I wear to the disco?"

No, it's that Atomic Age motto taught to schoolchildren: "Remember, kids, when The Bomb hits, Stop, turducken cover!"

It's a pesticide. A politically correct language taught in California public schools. A member of OPEC. Aerosol cheese!

Seriously, turducken is what every hip Hotpoint is sporting these days. The fondue of the new millennium.

I never heard of it either until my husband mentioned it casually in conversation the other day. He's one of those guys who mentions quarks, Captain Beefheart, gigabytes, bacteriophages, Judge Crater and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle casually in conversation. All in one conversation. According to him, turducken is a new haute dish, originated by Chef Paul Prudhomme, in which a turkey is stuffed with a duck is stuffed with a chicken and cooked for a long, long time. We're talkin' big turkey. Big oven. And people with nothing better to do than sit around for days waiting on supper.

My husband apparently thinks that having fossilized a turkey on Thanksgiving, I would be eager to commit mass poultricide. My response: "Gee, that's interesting. Why would anyone want to do that?" which he interpreted as "Please, I beg you, tell me everything there is to know about this fascinating dish." He inundated me with e-mails and web links about turducken. How to, when to, where to, who to ... leaving unanswered the essential question: "why?"

Who's kidding who? This kind of coupling does not occur in nature: A chicken and a duck, in fond embrace, fling themselves up the butt end of a turkey? The odds against it are astronomical. And no turkey worth its pinfeathers would participate in this sort of behavior without at least getting the money up front. When it comes to culinary pornography, these birds have been around the barnyard a few times.

This is what happens when good people go to William Sonoma. Domino's pizza used to suit them fine. Now they're hauling home baking stones and sundried tomatoes. Special knives, pneumatic drills, gadgets with wheels and straps. Ours is an experimental species: Given the means, motive and an Osterizer, Julia Child morphs into Dr. Frankenstein, committing unspeakable acts of performance art with lesser vertebrates. Turning onions into chrysanthemums, teasing geese into compromising positions. But it's one thing to doll up a hen with mandarin oranges. Start throwing Cointreau and frilly booties around -- well, now you're just showing off.

If you're making turducken because of a deep yearning for juxtaposed poultry, okay. That's between you and your Cuisinart. But let's get down to the brutal truth: Maybe turducken is what happens when the waiter is standing there tapping his pencil, and you just can't commit. Maybe what you really need isn't another extravagant gutbuster. Maybe you need to get real with your loved ones about this fine feathered fantasy you've kept secret all these years. There's probably a therapy group for 'pollo'philes like you. I'd be willing to make a few calls.

Here I thought Western society valued the individual, but I haven't heard one peep about Groucho, Chico or Harpo, the birds who made the ultimate sacrifice. Surely they had dreams, families and opinions on art. Give them a shot at a 3-D sculpture medium, I'd bet they'd go for celebrity garbage mobiles and mosaics in whole grains. Or something tasteful -- like graduates of LaParisienne on toast points.

Do we need such filthy excess? Turducken is something Caligula would serve to Imelda Marcos, with a centerpiece of dessicated pig spleen shaped like a swan, stuffed with alligator eggs and live doves: "Turducken for everybody! Save room for dessert: chocolate-covered slave boys on rose petals. Now, Imelda, no orgy 'til you finish your lark's tongues."

It's this pile-it-on mentality that got us the Edsel and Jerry Springer. There's a reason you never hear of Triple-stuff Oreos, thrice-baked potatoes or Kentucky Fried Chicken with 33 secret herbs and spices. Good taste only goes so far. Then you enter the realm of Furby Babies. Next stop: Rococco Puffs (We all know what comes in that box: Marie Antoinette Barbie. Pull her string, and she decrees, "Let them eat Croissan'wiches." Then her head falls off.) Wondering why sheep have been so edgy lately? They've caught wind of pigturducken and know what's coming next.

So, before we go whole hog for turducken, let's get some answers. Like: If it doesn't turn out, do you call it "turyucken"? If it's undercooked: "turcluckclucken"? Prepared by an incompetent chef: "turschmucken"? Pickled and dried: "gherkinturduckenjerky"? Does Kellogg's sell raspberry Toasturducken? Is the vegetarian version called "tofurcken" or "fauxturken," and do they sell it at Trader Joe's?

Okay, I'm a cretin wid' no taste for high art. A squaresville monogamist hung up on one finger-lickin fowl at a time. All that and immature, too. Feed me something with the word "turd" in it, I snicker 'til chocolate milk comes out my nose. You too? What's the number for Domino's?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 PM

New Scientist Arrives

Finally, after a seemingly interminable wait, New Scientist magazines are arriving at our doorstep. In fact, we received two issues in quick succession. It is a weekly, but the issues were December 9th and December 15th, both arriving shortly after Christmas.

I know it is a British publication, but they have a subscription office in San Francisco. I expected that they ran a few thousand copies off locally on the West Coast. Apparently not, since when we received confirmation of the subscription, it came not from San Francisco, but 'par avion' from Great Britain. I just hope the delivery dates come closer to the publication dates now that the stream has begun.

I haven't had a chance to read either issue yet. Jean says she likes it better than Scientific American. Initially I had feared that that magazine had gone permanently downhill, but the last two issues have been quite good, so if Jean thinks New Scientist is even better, I look forward to reading it. I just have such a huge backlog of reading matter right now that I can't do justice to any of it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:01 PM

Terror At Pet Town

Jean's sister Ann bought Kelly a plastic triceratops for Christmas. Not just any triceratops either. This one has twenty-seven articulation points, for endless posing fun!

Anyway, Jean tells me that she and Kelly were playing Pet Town with all of Kelly's animal toys last night (I was off at work doing self-study). Jean grabbed the new triceratops and began playing with it, when Kelly screamed "don't bring that triceratops into Pet Town! It'll eat the other animals!" Never mind that triceratops was a vegetarian. The drama of the moment overtook her.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:25 PM

Billy Barty Dead

Is he Number Three? Actually number two, I guess, since he died the same day as Victor Borge. Jean and I were talking on today's walk, and we decided to hold out for a more significant personage. I'd already made my prediction for a political figure.

Jean speculated that maybe we are talking about a major figure, a major figure and two minor figures, sorta like:

Jason Robards died today. Jimmy Smits

"qbullet.smiley" http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/eo/20001226/en/a_mini-obit_actor_billy_barty_1.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:17 PM

December 27, 2000

Celebrity Trios

I posted the search for "The Rule of Threes" because I was looking to see if there was any reference to the game Jean and I play. We note whenever a well-regarded celebrity dies, and watch the news to see which two other celebrities follow them into the great beyond. Since people are dying all the time, you can stretch this to fit in any situation. But the variation is to try to name broad categories of expertise, i.e. an actor, a politician, a writer.

This month's trio starts with a musician/comedian and an actor:

Your turn, what category will contribute number three?

[and since my wife was wondering, yes, Red Skelton is dead, died September 17, 1997]

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:20 AM

The Rule of Threes

Presented for your enjoyment, just so you can cherish the fact that there isn't just one rendition, the Google search for The Rule Of Threes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:11 AM

Napster's Fate

Just a really short note. While talking with Jean's father about Napster, I realized that I was truly anxious to hear the outcome of the deal between Napster and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. I want to have the option of a subscription service that would allow me to legitimately download songs for a fee.

Things I would pay for:

Things I wouldn't pay for:

There you are, Mister Recording Industry Middleman, make my day! http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4276794.html?tag=st.ne.1002.tgif.ni

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:42 AM

Dropped Article

I seem to be missing a News Item. I may have accidentally deleted it when doing some site maintenance, but I don't feel like typing it in again. So I'll just rehash some of it.

Jean's father seemed to be quite pleased about the CD of Jerry Lewis novelty tunes, and wanted to know how we had found it. I told him about Google, and Napster, and about doggedly searching for two nights before finding a collector who I sent email to. And I told him how the collector had selflessly sent me a copy of the song in MP3.

So then he set me to work searching for a novelty tune from World War II, and I haven't found it yet, but I'll keep trying. I finally did discover that it is available as one song on an three CD anthology set that is in print, so I sent him a link to that.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

Duckpin Bowling

I was driving in to work this morning and listening to \"the comments of Frank Deford\" on NPR's Morning Edition. I don't like sports, but Deford has a whole trove of amusing anecdotes that don't always have to do with sports, and when they do, don't always have to do with football. This morning he was reminiscing about Duckpin Bowling as a child in his hometown of Baltimore.

This started a cascade of memories. My mother used to take me to the bowling alley where she bowled in a women's league. Sometimes after her game she'd play duckpins with me. When I mention it to most people, they seem never to have heard of this flavor of bowling.

Since Deford mentions that he grew up playing it in Baltimore, and I most likely played it in Maryland as well, growing up in Washington, D.C. as I did, I wondered if it was more of a regional thing. According to this site, "Duckpins is mostly bowled on the east coast, but due to a lack of media coverage, it's less seen than tenpins."

So there you go. Once more the Internet comes to my rescue to let me know I'm not insane "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:06 AM | Comments (2)

December 26, 2000

Vib-Ribbon

Yet another example of a cool game which doesn't involve fighting is Vib-Ribbon, which involves guiding Vibri the Rabbit over a jagged landscape to the accompaniment of music which reflects the terrain. It is really cute, featuring simple graphics and catchy tunes. In addition, once the game is loaded into a Playstation, you can put your own music CD into the game console, and Vibri's world will reflect the beat of that music.

This is actually quite a clever innovation, since the biggest shortcoming of the other dance games (so I've heard) is that after a while, the music on the games gets kind of stale, no matter how catchy and clever it was when you first started playing the game. Each game comes with a lot of music, but you can only fit a finite amount of music on a game CD-ROM. So Vib-Ribbon bypasses that shortcoming by enlisting your own music collection. Reviews say that this leads to a lot of replayability.

Unfortunately, it is currently only available in Japan, and soon in Europe. Sony hasn't indicated that it has any plans to bring it to America. Please, Sony!

Brought to you by the same designer who created PaRappa the Rapper "qbullet.smiley". http://www.scee.com/vibribbon/

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:23 AM

Is Santa Real?

Kelly has never asked me this question. I think this stems from our special relationship, whereby I spin humungous whoppers of fibs all the time, but always tell her the truth about important things, or when she asks "for real?" Since I think she wants Santa to exist, she doesn't ask me. Still, it is clear that she thinks about this sort of thing, and at five years old, is aware that super-powered beings are not all that common.

Jean was talking about this on Christmas Eve, after Kelly was asleep, and said that Kelly had asked her if Santa was for real. Jean hesitated, and Kelly said, "he's real the way cartoon characters are real." Which is really a fascinating characterization. Which is why we were so amused at her reaction to the traditional cookies-and-milk escapade. At that point, I think she was role-playing, more than believing in Santa whole-heartedly, but it was still amusing.

I think next year, Santa will be just a fun part of the Christmas trimmings, and clearly no longer a real possibility.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:04 AM

The Christmas Drill

Christmas Eve, Jean and I sat up in our bedroom and talked until we were sure Kelly was asleep. Then we went into the living room and placed all the presents under the tree. Kelly had placed a plate with three homemade cookies and a cup of milk onto an endtable for Santa, so Jean ate one cookie, and dumped the Wuv Luv cookie Kelly had made into the freezer for posterity.

Christmas Day began with the ceremonial early reveille, courtesy of Kelly. It wasn't dawn when Kelly roused us, but it felt like it. She had found the big stuffed dog under the tree, and was shouting, "Santa was here! He's real, he ate my cookies, and there's a big dog under the tree!"

So we had the present opening which lasted well into the late morning hours. I've already sampled Kelly's presents, and who cares about the adults' presents "qbullet.smiley"?

After Kelly had had a while to play with all her presents, we went down to Mentor to feed the ducks. Jean picked up this tradition from one of her co-workers, who is British. She says if you feed the ducks on Christmas Day, it will bring a miracle in the coming year. We fed the ducks last year (at the Tualatin Commons), and Jean got her migraines under control for the first time in decades, so superstitious or no, she decided what the hey?

We ate more rich food than any reasonable person would on a normal day, and sat around feeling sluggish. I called my Dad and wished him a Merry Christmas, but was yawning the whole time. So I grabbed Jean and we went for a walk. After the evening meal, Jean's parents left to go to their hotel room at the airport, so they could leave in the morning with less rush.

When Jean's parents were leaving, they lingered in the doorway jabbering for the longest time. Cold air was pouring down the stairs into the downstairs family room, I was trying to get Jean to step outside so I could close the door! While the door was open, a big fat fly flew into the house.

Kelly came upstairs to watch cartoons, but saw the fly and freaked out. Recall that she was stung three times by yellowjackets this summer, so anything flying in the house is a cause for fear. She hid in our bedroom, and Jean and I had a hilarious time trying to nail the little sucker. It was fast! Eventually we gave up and went into the bedroom to hang with Kelly. I went back out, and after two tries, I killed the little intruder. Guess my Christmas Karma is gonna have to take a hit.

The final activity, after getting Kelly bathed, was to give Kelly two presents we had held back, to ease the let-down of Christmas ending, and to give Jean three presents that I had held back, since she thought certain kinds of gifts would weird out her parents.

Kelly's presents were a word-magnet set with words and pictures about pets. She and I spent some time before her bedtime making nonsense sentences about animals.

Jean's presents from me were two Jerry Lewis movies, Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust, and a book, A Low-Cost Approach to Pcr: Appropriate Transfer of Biomolecular Techniques. Don't ask me why Jerry Lewis movies would freak her parents, especially since her dad seemed to really like the CD with the two Jerry Lewis novelty tunes I had made for him. The PCR book might certainly freak them, since in addition to discussing a fundamental technique for DNA replication and testing, it can involve forensics and other icky topics.

What is PCR? It is the Polymerase Chain Reaction, a laboratory technique related to sequencing DNA, which is used in a number of scientific fields, but germane to Jean's interests, is used in forensics. Since Jean has been reading alot about forensic anthropology, and is studying now in related classes such as anthropology and chemistry, I thought she might enjoy this peek into the technical side of the field.

The book is especially appropriate since it is targetted toward municipalities (and third-world countries) where resources are limited, so that home-grown labs need to be thrown together out of common items. An example is their suggestion of using an old phonograph for a centrifuge. Therefore, if Jean ever gets the urge to actually try some of this stuff, she doesn't have to drop a thousand dollars on lab equipment first.

Anyway, the book was a big gamble, since I didn't know how deep her interest in the technical side would go. I didn't want to ask explicitly, since I wanted to surprise her, so I took the chance. She acknowledged that she didn't know if she'd ever do the experiments, but that she thought the book was really cool, and a very good gift. Frankly, I think I'll be browsing it myself in the next few months.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:31 AM

Christmas Is Over

Yesterday was the big day. Kelly got deluged with presents again this year. Having well-to-do grandparents yields at least half of those toys she gets, then Jean generally gets carried away as well. Some highlights of Kelly's Christmas cavalcade:

There were many more toys after those, but I can't possibly remember them all.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 AM

December 24, 2000

Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding!

"Nothing says it's the Yuletide like caroling terrorists." What he said, yeah. <snicker>

Holiday Cheer from An Entirely Other Day, the coo' website by Greg Knauss. http://www.eod.com/archive/date.html?DATE=20001221

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:20 PM

Momentary Lull

I have a momentary respite to put together these posts because Jean, her parents and Kelly have gone to afternoon Christmas services with communion at some local Lutheran church. I make no pretense about religion, so I didn't attend.

I'm sure this makes Jean's parents uncomfortable, but I don't want to pretend in front of Kelly. I've tried to be honest with her, and tell her that she and her mom should feel free to do the god thing. I don't know what effect this will have on her as she grows up, but I think it's better than lying to her or putting up a big front about being a religious pillar.

When everybody gets back, it will be time to eat leftovers(tm) from today's lunch. We had baked chicken, cranberry sauce, dressing, the usual junk food. We bought it all prepared at the local grocery store. Quite nice not to have everybody running around the kitchen like crazy folk.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:02 PM

Package Tours

I've lived in Oregon for going on twelve years now, and I had never gone to the 'End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center' even once. Deep in my bones, I knew it would be disappointing. Actually, since I already had limited expectations for it, I suppose it would not have been disappointing at all. But I knew instinctively that it would be as thrilling as the wait in line for Pirates of the Carribean.

I'm not a big fan of travel for travel's sake. When I took the GMAT prior to entering graduate school, the paperwork required two photo IDs. Well, I only had my driver's license, so for chuckles, I got a passport. Five years have elapsed on that passport, and no stamps. I've taken to joking that I'm going to fly to Tokyo, walk around the city for 24 hours and then fly home, just so I can get my passport stamped before it expires.

But overall, I don't have the urge. Yesterday's field trip helps to crystallize some of the motivation for that. I'm not a history buff, so visiting historical sites just for the sake of touching the soil doesn't float my boat. Historicity (the imbuing of a thing or place with weight due to historical associations) makes me yawn.

I was trying to get this across to Jean's dad in a conversation last night, and he obliviously regaled me with the charm of several locations in Europe due to their historical significance! Outwardly, I'm nodding politely. Inwardly, I'm screaming "I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored!"

So the most likely venue for me to travel in, the package tour, is anathema to me, exactly because of it's concentration on the historical significance of various landmarks. When we went to Philadelphia, I gave all the standard landmarks a miss. Instead, I went to see the Mutter Museum, not because of it's historical significance, but because the topical matter itself was interesting. Flailing about in Europe on my own, I would be unable to find such gems. In a package tour, I'd be protected from myself, but bored out of my skull.

So now Jean has decided that she'd really like to go to Italy. I would too, but I'm very uneasy about the notion of a tour package. What I want is to do two simple things:

Anything else is just a side-trip to me. The one glimmer of hope here is that Jean's sister, a professor, has spent several years in Italy, and is fluent in Italian. We hope to convince her to come along as our guide (at our expense) so we can bypass all the standard tourist traps.

This is a two-edged sword though. Ann (Jean's sister), is apparently a strong advocate of dressing you so you are not mistaken for Germans (hated in Italy to this day, I am told). What that entails is at least not wearing sneakers. Since I wear them for my back, pronation control and arch support, this may present a problem. All this is academic as yet, since we don't have the money saved for a proper trip. Jean's parents say a tour can cost around $2900 per person, so with Kelly, that's approaching $10,000. Hubba, hubba!

Who said travelling should be easy? I think I'll crawl back in my cave now "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:50 PM

End of the Oregon Trail

Yesterday, Jean, Kelly, Jean's parents and I all piled into the rental car and made the pilgrimage to The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This is three buildings made to look like three gigantic covered wagons. Inside the 'greeting' building is a gift shop, and some limited displays. The other two buildings are the location of a tour.

We took the 'tour', which consisted of a simple lecture and a bunch of canned slides, film, voice-overs and music. The whole shebang lasted about an hour, and cost $5.50 per adult. Jean and I talked about it on our walk later that day, and we both agree. If you want to learn about the Oregon Trail, buy a book. http://endoftheoregontrail.org/

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:30 PM

December 22, 2000

The Moyers Are Here

Pity the timing. Yesterday I began to display some of the symptoms of the stomach flu which Jean had recently. Thankfully, my symptoms seem milder, but it is a drag being sick and having outsiders in your home at the same time.

Kelly in any case is having a grand time. She knows she can push the limits with grandparents, and she does. Jean and I spend a lot of time roping her in and calming her down.

Right now I'm just unwinding enough to go to bed. The long weekend stretches ahead of me. On the bright side, I got my code checked in before code freeze "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:49 PM

Jerry Redux

After I had cut the CD for Jean containing "I'm a Little Busybody", I told her how to send a copy to her brother, with an idea of protecting the file by replicating it in geographically distinct regions. It now lives on three hard drives in our home, on a couple of CD-R's, and presumably on a hard drive in Tennessee.

So last night Jean is checking her email when what should appear, but a reply from her brother, containing an attachment. The attachment is the flip-side to the original 78rpm recording of "I'm a Little Busybody". That's right, we now have "Sunday Driving" in MP3 format as well.

So I replicated it to the same hard disks, and then I fired up the CD-R drive and made my own high-tech 78, cotaining both songs. Actually I made two, one for Jean, and one for her Dad. Christmas morning will discover whether he is dazzled or merely amused by this gift.

As to where Jean's brother Tom got the "Sunday Driving" MP3, the story is not finished yet. I'll report that here when I find out. Ain't the Internet grand?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:46 AM

Easier to Give

"It is better to give than to receive" is the old saw pronounced around Christmas. But when you've got friends, aquaintances, relatives, ex-relatives, and on and on, where do you draw the line? I got presents this year from two of my "NOVA" friends, and I didn't get them anything. We've never exchanged gifts before. How was I to know?

The gifts were given in the best holiday spirit. John gave me a fun gift, probably didn't cost too much. It was a South Park television DVD. Tom spent a little more, probably, and got me Tai Chi II on DVD. Both of them shrugged it off when I protested that I hadn't gotten them anything, and clearly meant it. They just enjoyed giving something nice to a friend.

I enjoyed getting the gifts too. I'll be watching them sometime over the holiday season, and thinking of the generous dudes what gave them. But I'll also be making a silent note that I ought to get them something next year, because I feel bad I didn't have that telepathic moment that I should be getting them something. That's why I think the phrase should read: "It is easier to give than to receive."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 AM

Selective Holiday Coverage

I've noted holidays in this web log which are celebrated in our family, or at least ones we are aware of. For instance, while we are aware of Labor Day due to it's being a 'national' holiday, I don't think you could say we celebrate it. But Halloween and Thanksgivings Day have been covered here, and I think I'll have a few things to say about Christmas.

The reason I mention this is that there will be a number of holidays which I remain silent about. Hannukah is one of them. The reason in this case is that I was not brought up Jewish, and it really doesn't impinge on my life. There is no insult intended. So if you don't see your favorite holiday mentioned here, please assume it is due to my lack of experience of said holiday, not some exclusionary agenda.

I think I'll find the time to post over the Christmas weekend, regardless of the in-laws visit, but if I don't, Merry Christmas to anybody who cares!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:20 AM

December 21, 2000

Justice Is Blind

I was pointed to this news article by an entry on Metafilter. Apparently, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expressed dismay on election night when she heard Gore had been declared the winner in the state of Florida. It seems she wanted to retire, but not if a Democrat could appoint her successor.

When I told my wife about it, she told me a 'joke' she'd heard today:

Of course one vote counts, if you're on the Supreme Court!
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001217/ts/election_oconnor_dc_1.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:32 PM

Best Buffy Line

Anya the former demon and now Xander's girlfriend, is peeved that he is taking Willow's side in an argument.

[Anya (to Xander)]: Is this how you treat me after I love you, feed you, bathe you --

[Willow (I think)]: She bathes you?

[Xander]: Well, in a sexual, Penthousey sort of way, not a sponge-bathey geriatric sort of way...

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:44 PM

Kellyisms, Part Two

Last night, Jean tells it, she was run down, and starting to get hungry. Remember she has had the stomach flu, and her body is just starting to be interested in solid food again. So Jean was focussed on getting that meal ready.

Kelly was in a different state of mind. As Jean walked down the hallway, Kelly called to her from the bathroom. "Mom, can I use the foot massager?" The 'foot massager' is a vibrating foot bath, that must be hauled out, placed on a towel, filled with water, emptied when done, in other words, a lot of work. In point of fact, alot of work that Kelly can't do yet.

So Jean says, "I don't know, Kelly, I just want to eat right now."

To which Kelly replies:

I'll take that as a yes.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:39 PM

Kellyisms, Part One

Jean and I were just out for a walk around the Mentor nature trail, and we were talking about Kelly. Apparently, last night while I was at work doing my self-study routine, Jean and Kelly had a confrontation which escalated until Kelly began crying. Jean told Kelly that she should go to her room, and Kelly refused. Jean then threatened to "send a toy to Toy Jail."

It seems that Kelly decided to call Mom's bluff. "That's never going to happen!" she said. Jean did not follow through, which I think is a fatal mistake. I told her that Kelly would be minus one toy right now if I had been there. We'll see how that plays out in the near future.

In any case, it got me to remembering some of Kelly's recent growth. An example. Sometimes she doesn't like what I have to say, like "pick up your toys or I'll throw them out." For the longest time she would say things like "if you don't stop that, I'll never talk to you again." But I had the perfect rejoinder. I'd say "promise?"

So now she has refined her routine. Now she says:

If you don't stop that, I'll never talk to you again... But I'll still bug you.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:25 PM

Presents to Myself

I usually ask for cash for Christmas, since I can guess better what I want than Jean, and the things I want to buy are usually more expensive than the cumulative spending Jean engages in. So I take my Christmas money and combine it with my allowance savings to buy my toys.

I just bought my first Christmas treat. Computer memory is at an all-time low, so I bought 256 MB of memory for the iBook. This'll bring it up to a total of 320 MB, allowing me to experiment with Mac OS X (Client) when it comes out next year.

And of course, sometime in the Spring, I'll be getting the Sony Playstation 2. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:05 AM

December 20, 2000

The Pinnacle of Christmas

After much work, the grace of an anonymous benefactor, and the advances of technology, I've topped out my Christmas giving. I succeeded in making a CD 'single' of Jerry Lewis' "I'm a Little Busybody" so that Jean can listen to it on a conventional CD player, rather than having to be near one of our computers to play the MP3. Quoth Jean: "This is the single best Christmas gift you could have given me."

Ain't love strange?

Yes, I know any preteen with a PC could have done it in five minutes, but give me a break, I've never had the urge to cut a CD before!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:39 AM

Nader Responds

Here is a nice measured response by Ralph Nader to all the hysterical character assassination that's been going on in the press during the election fracas. I don't have any illusions that Nader is a saint, or even particularly free of self-interest. But he continues to demonstrate both by his rhetoric and his actions that he is far superior to either of the old-party candidates we were expected to 'obviously' vote for.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:13 AM

December 19, 2000

Unbreakable

Jean and I went to see this movie today. I took a long lunch and will work late to cover the gap. This is the sort of movie about which a lot of reviews get written: big-name actors, writer/director with a reputation, genuinely good story. So I won't write a full-fledged review of it. What follows are my brief comments, and they are spoilers.

All told, anybody who has read a lot of comics, but has an introspective mind, will appreciate this moody postmodern take on the superhero.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:14 PM

December 17, 2000

Not-so-crowed Movie Weekend

In the end, the "NOVA" crowd bagged on D&D, because it was gettting universally panned. Then CTHD isn't even showing until January, at Cinema 21 Friday, January 12 - Thursday, January 18. I don't know when I'll see that, since it isn't showing on a "NOVA" weekend, but I am going to see it. Maybe I'll use one of my 'self-study' nights (also known to Jean and I as faux-class night).

So in the end, I saw just one movie last week, Vertical Limit. Sunday is a new week in my book. But I saw The Emperor's New Groove today, and I might see Unbreakable with Jean this week since Kelly is in daycare all day a couple of days this week. That'd be very nice.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:04 PM

The Emperor's New Groove

What a movie! This is easily as good as Hercules, Disney's other recent film with truly original energy. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Mulan immensely, but I think Hercules was the start of their branch of animation to explore irreverent humor and just plain wacky fun along with their more traditional fare of fairy tale romance, adventure and music.

So I went to see this today with Jean, Kelly, Kelly's friend Ashley (and her grandma, Carol Holman, who also works at Mentor). I have to say that I laughed pretty much nonstop, and Jean seems to agree that it was the funniest, cleverest Disney movie she's seen in a long time. I sure hope that they let the creative team responsible do another one.

Many good choices for actors. John Goodman plays a major role, as do David Spade (the Emperor/Llama), Eartha Kitt (the Villain) and a guest appearance by Tom Jones, doing the main theme music. I was very amused by the role of Kronk, played by Patrick Warburton. Jean told me he played Elaine's boyfriend on Seinfeld, which clicked immediately for me. Tom mentioned that he does the voice of Space Ghost on Space Ghost Coast to Coast on Comedy Central. I didn't recognize him from that...

Kelly's favorite line: "Oh, I've been so bad. Bad llama!". "qbullet.smiley" http://www.disney.go.com/disneypictures/emperorsnewgroove/

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:38 PM

Keeping Us Honest

I forgot to relate an incident with Kelly that happened last week. Moreover, I don't remember if I recorded here a still earlier incident, when Kelly and I were walking, so I'll relate them in order:

A couple of months ago I was walking around the block with Kelly, and I decided to see how familiar with her neighborhood she was. I told her, with about one side of the block left, that I wanted her to try to get home by herself. "Don't worry, I'll be right beside you, and if you need help deciding, I'll give it to you." So we walked onwards, with her making hesitant decisions to go forward at every court and circle.

Finally we are nearing home, when Kelly spots 'the neighbor lady' from next door, whom Jean does not get along with. Kelly calls out "are you are neighbor lady?" The neighbor replies "yes I am, Kelly." Whereupon Kelly pipes up and volunteers in a very cheerful voice, "my Mommy hates you!" I got to sit through the ensuing conversation, acting polite and cheerful, and when we got home I told Jean about it. Her reaction was not sympathetic. She simply said, "well, I do hate her!"

Flash forward to last weekend. Jean and Kelly and I are driving home from the grocery store. Some fool swerves in front of us oblivious to any danger he is causing. Jean says under her breath "asshole." Now, Kelly, bless her heart, has the sharp hearing of a five-year old, not yet damaged by years of rock music. Sitting in her car seat in the back of the car, she immediately begins to yell, in her best sing-song voice:

"Asshole-smasshole! Asshole-smasshole! Asseysmassy-basshole!"

Jean leans forward covering her face, laughing and saying "what have I done?" I laugh heartily, and think justice is done.

Epilogue: This Saturday, on our way back from the grocery store, Jean and I are talking about Vertical Limit, Wages of Fear and emotionless characters, when she mentions the female lead in WoF, about whom she mouthes the word bitch to me, apparently remembering our little recorder in the back seat. I turned to her and mouthed/singsonged asshole-smasshole, and she immediately cracked up. I laughed so hard that Kelly decided we were having a laughing contest, and she and I laughed most of the way home. Boy, are my ribs sore! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 AM

December 16, 2000

Wages of Fear

Jean and I were talking once again about Vertical Limit and it's shortcomings, when I remembered another film about characters transporting unstable nitroglycerin across wild terrain. The movie was made in 1953 by French directory Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand and Charles Vanel. It's American title was Wages of Fear. I won't review it here, especially since it's been years since we saw it in an art theater. Just read the review linked to above.

Our main reaction upon this recollection though, was that here was another movie which attempted to portray a nail-bitingly tense ride, and though Clouzot takes the entire first hour of the movie to develop characters and build background, it succeeds many more times over than Vertical Limit. In boiling away all the essence of humanity, limiting characters to convenient cutouts, Vertical Limit removes any reason to care what happens to the characters. Wages of Fear contains characters who are rarely if ever sympathetic, yet you are drawn into their plight and believe their desperation implicitly.

I also saw the 1977 remake of Wages of Fear, Sorcerer, directed by William Friedkin and starring, among others, Roy Scheider. As an American film, made 24 years later, it is much more focused on the action than the original, with a lot of that pesky 'character development' trimmed to allow more scenes with sweaty, fearful men pushing tottering trucks out of ruts while cases of nitroglycerin tinkle ominously.

But even though it is a lesser film to it's inspiration, Sorcerer makes Vertical Limit seem flat. http://movie-reviews.colossus.net/movies/w/wages_fear.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:51 PM

December 15, 2000

Atlantic Monthly

I'm still in the midst of my experiment with the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. I bought my second issue at the grocery store last week and I've just started to work my way through it.

One thing I like about the magazine is that they don't take their feature article and slice it up into a half-dozen segments scattered throughout the pages. I've never liked that about magazines, where they cluster the first two or three pages of an article near the front of the magazine then banish the bulk to the back with all the other orphaned end-stories. I guess I like each story in the magazine to be contiguous like a chapter in a book.

I'm currently in the middle of an article by William Langewiesche, about the wine critic, Robert Parker, Jr (The Million Dollar Nose). I'll write more about that in a later essay or news item, but suffice it to say that it is fascinating. I'm beginning to think that maybe a subscription is not out of the question. And the two-year subscription rate works out to less than 75 cents an issue. Such a deal "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:11 PM

Ten Days to Christmas

Kelly is keeping the watch for the arrival of Christmas. This will intensify soon, because today was the last day of Kindergarten until after Christmas. She won't be at home that whole time, because Jean works and takes classes. So she'll be going to Kid Connection (daycare) part of the day for Monday through Thursday of next week.

Friday of next week, Jean's parents are arriving. They asked if they could come spend Christmas with us. Me, I prefer just Jean, Kelly and me. A nice quiet intimate Christmas. I don't like crowds, irregularity, schedule blowups. In short, I'm an extreme introvert who values his privacy deeply. But I bit my lip, because they are Jean's parents, and because Kelly loves visiting with them.

So since Kelly's schedule is changing significantly on Monday, she'll be receiving the signal that the season of jolliness is nearing. We'll begin to hear "is it Christmas?" not every few days, but every day. Finally, we'll hear it two or three times a day, until Christmas Eve, when I'll finally be able to say, "tomorrow, Kelly, tomorrow."

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:55 PM

Spiffy Checkout

I forgot to mention that while at Fred Meyer buying my sushi, I was able to use their new checkout stations. These are 'self-scan'. You scan and pack your own food, then pay with cash, debit card or credit card at a 'automated cashier'. There are only four of these, and they are next to the express checkouts.

The four self-scan stations are arranged two to each side of an information booth with a cashier standing by to help (or arrest shoplifters "qbullet.smiley"). On the whole it was quite easy, though I don't think you'd be able to use it for a regular 'full cart' shopping trip. The space allocated seems dedicated to the '10 item or less' crowd.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:38 PM

Pac Rim White Trash

Oregon sports a largish local chain of combo grocery/household goods stores called Fred Meyer. There is one very near where we live (less than five minutes by car). Think K-Mart (which we also have nearby) and you won't be far off.

So I was feeling in need of a treat today after work, and had just gotten my allowance, making a quick food treat possible. What, I thought to myself, can I get to eat for about $5, for fun? McDonald's and Burger King are sometimes expedient, but they ain't fun. If I was an Arkie, maybe I'd get some deep-fried catfish wrapped in newspaper. But this is Oregon; Portland is sister city to Sapporo in Japan. So I went to Fred Meyer and bought sushi in a plastic tray.

When I told my wife what I had bought, she said, "Ughh! that's disgusting." After a pause, she went on, in the way that makes me love her so dearly. "But I understand why you did it. I don't give you sushi at home, so you get it somewhere else. Just don't start bringing it home at all hours of the morning."

I cracked up and promised to practice 'safe sushi'. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:24 PM

Movie Collapse

As I suspected, the "four movie" week is shrinking. We saw Vertical Limit, ugh. Jean isn't feeling well today, so no Unbreakable. And the listings for this week were out in the morning paper, and they are not releasing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the Portland market this week! The bastards! So the post-"NOVA" movie will not be a double feature. C'est la vie.

On the bright side, though not strictly this week, Kelly and I will probably set Sunday aside to see The Emperor's New Groove.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 AM

December 14, 2000

The Internet and People

What makes the Internet so powerful? Is it the distributed computing power, the robustness of interlinked networks, the speed of information transfer? I think what makes it really worthy is the people. In fact, Robert Metcalfe, designer of the Ethernet protocol for networked computers, formulated Metcalfe's Law: the usefulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users.

I had an experience of this last night. First some background. Jean is slowly building a collection of the works of Jerry Lewis, as well as books about him. She grew up watching his movies, hearing his songs and is now revisiting those memories. Apparently, her father had an album of Jerry Lewis' comic songs, and this album included a song called "I'm a Little Busybody". As a child she and her brother Tom used to listen to it and loved it. Unfortunately they broke it one day, and she has felt sad about that to this day.

So recently she began hunting for a replacement. She found that it was rereleased on a CD: "The Capitol Collector's Series - Jerry Lewis". So she thought she'd just order it. But it was published in 1990, and was now out of print. I told her I'd try to find it.

I searched Napster, no luck. Since the music in their search engines is dependent on who is logged on, I tried several times, but still no luck. Then I started searching various music sites such as CDNow and Virgin Megastores. Each acknowledged the existence of the CD, each denied it's availability. Then I tried looking for used CD stores on the net. Again no luck.

Finally I tried using Google to search for the specific song. I found a number of references to people's private collections. I sent mail to one gentleman who said he'd be selling his collection, I haven't heard from him yet. I also sent email to another man asking him if he knew where I could get a copy, since he had not indicated he would sell his. Last night I was checking my email, when what should appear but a reply from this gentleman. He was sending me an attachment of the MP3 of "I'm a Little Busybody"!

Due to the vagaries of law, I won't name him. It is stupid, but the copyright holder can get nasty even if they won't rerelease the CD, and even if we'd be willing to buy it in a heartbeat (which we would be). So just let me express here, as I did in an email, that I am very grateful that there are folks on the Internet who work to make others happy. Thanks a bunch for making the Internet the powerful tool it is. The Internet is community, it is people.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2000

Geocaching and Mischief

Geocaching is the game of hiding something at a location of your choosing, then posting the GPS coordinates on the Internet, and inviting others to find it. Typically, the object is a bucket with some trinkets and a logbook. When you find it, you are supposed to write in the logbook, take one of the trinkets, and leave your own.

My initial reaction to all this was pessimistic. I thought, "has anyone else thought of the sinister implications of this?" After a few Google searches, combining the word 'geocache' with words like 'kill', 'harm', 'danger', 'stalk', and so on, I began to think not. Then I read this article on Salon (pointers from Follow Me Here):

The cynic in me thinks that it's just a matter of time before some malicious malcontent uses the system to plant a booby trap, or stuffs a cache with a dead animal or leaves behind a stink bomb. Imagine a serial killer using the geocaching game to toy with unsuspecting hikers.
Janelle Brown

So I guess I'm not so cynical after all.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:12 PM

Pretender in Chief

I don't know how long this MSNBC editorial will be up, so I'll quote the opening paragraph here:

Let's not mince words: George W. Bush, aided by a narrow conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court willing to invent new legal theory out of whole cloth specifically for these purposes, has stolen the 2000 election. Al Gore indisputably won the popular vote. He almost certainly would have won the tally in the Electoral College had Florida's vote ever been subjected to a full and fair manual count as mandated by Florida law.
Eric Alterman

In the course of the last 36 days, there has been so much spin, false logic and rhetoric on both sides, and so much wrong application of the law (as I understand it, not being a lawyer), that I think it is just pathetic.

Make no mistake, I would have been unhappy with Gore as a President too. I'm not spouting sour grapes here because 'my' candidate lost. My candidate didn't even get 5% of the vote. What I'm mad about is what seems to me a subversion of the democratic system. Add to that that this wouldn't have even been possible without the pig-headed Electoral College system, and I'm truly miffed. http://www.msnbc.com/news/501779.asp

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:27 PM

Furi Kuri Review Completed

Finally the Furi Kuri review is completed. It took so long because so much has been going on lately, and also I was struggling to find a way to express my reactions to this anime without wallowing in spoilers. So, without further ado, "FLCL S LTS F FN" "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:21 PM | Comments (2)

Vertical Idiots

Jean was feeling well enough to come to the Mentor Movie Day with me, and it was a hoot. We went to see Vertical Limit and man was it bad. They piled cliche upon cliche until they had enough to climb "qbullet.smiley".

Jean seemed to enjoy the notion of seeing a really bad movie together, and as a bonus we got to go for a walk together (in the rain!) afterwards. Much of the conversation on the walk concerned picking apart the flaws and ludicrous moments in this movie.

Sad to say, I don't think this movie is of lastingly bad value, so I doubt I'll bother to write a review of it. Sorry.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:59 PM

Flu News

Jean doesn't have this year's most nasty flu! She does have a stomach flu, but one that passes in one to four days, not four to six weeks. So that's livable.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:11 AM

December 12, 2000

Winter Is Here

Two sure signs of winter. Snow in Oregon. Flu in wife.

I came home early last night because I couldn't gauge the severity of the road conditions. Stacy got called home to Newberg by his wife, which is when I noticed that it was snowing. Now granted that the snow is always worse in Newberg than Portland Metro, but I didn't want to take the chance, having neither snow tires nor chains. So off I skidaddled.

When I arrived home, I found out that my wife had been trying to call me, to come home early. Seems she started throwing up around 4pm, and got worse from there. So I took care of Kelly last night, and did all the Kelly-get-ready-for-school chores this morning. I made an appointment with Dr. Selby for Jean. She said she was feeling well enough to drive the short distance to his office, so I dropped Kelly off and came to work. I'll cut out for a long lunch so that I can take Kelly from kindergarten to daycare, and then check on Jean.

Whether I come back to work in the afternoon depends on weather and health (Jean's if she needs supervision, mine if I'm only a few hours behind Jean in getting whatever-it-is). I'll post Dr. Selby's verdict when I know it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:57 AM

December 11, 2000

Populous

"SNES Populous Screenshot"

This image shows the main play screen of Peter Molyneux's first game, Populous. I bought the SNES cartridge for this game at a used gamestore, sans manual, for about $7. Now imagine trying to determine what constitutes gameplay looking at the above image, by pushing random buttons. Good luck!

I spent around an hour poking at it before I admitted that I'd have to find help. Fortunately, a little work with Google turned up this text-only hand-typed manual. Now all I need is the time to read it and correspond as many of the icons on the screen with the text descriptions as possible. Still sketchy, as not all icons are described (from my first quick read), but much improved over guessing.

Why did I buy the thing in the first place? I didn't know it would be so cryptic! I thought there'd be menus with descriptions. Silly me. Designers, GUI's (graphical user interfaces) are not automatically intuitive! They are at best intuitable.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:42 PM

Movie Glut

I'm sitting here waiting for a long build, and maybe a little inspiration, when it dawns on me that I have the potential to see four movies this week! Movies and the event precipitating them are:

Frankly, I doubt events will all come together in a way to permit seeing all four, but I thought it was funny that the potential was there...

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:20 PM

December 10, 2000

Christmas Shopping Done

I finished my Christmas shopping today, and wrapped everything up. This year I only bought presents for my dad, my wife and my daughter. Apologies to others whom I've bought things for in the past. Of course don't get anything for me. Those of you who know whom I'm talking about, I still love you. And I hope your Christmas season is a happy one, even if you don't celebrate Christmas.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:00 PM

Lawyer Joke on Angel

Nursing a vascular headache, I nevertheless had the energy to watch Angel on the Replay tonight. On the show, there is a law firm whose clientele includes demons, vampires and other evil entities. They brought back the vampire who originally made Angel a vampire, his sire. His sire is of course, a woman (named Darla), so they can play all sorts of romantic head games on the show. In this episode, she finds out that since they brought her back as a mortal, she is going to die of terminal syphillis in a couple of months. Angel doesn't want to believe the medical reports, thinking it is some sick mind game of the law firm.

[Darla, looking at Angel]: We know something about mind games. We played them, you and I.
[Cordelia, Angel's friend]: Yes, but you were just bloodsucking soulless demons. They're lawyers.
[Angel, looking at Darla]: She's right, compared to them, we were amateurs.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 PM

December 09, 2000

It's Coming, Ooooh!

Remember my little intro to "Turducken"? Remember my wife's reaction to the whole concept? If you read that, you also remember that I encouraged her to write an essay on this topic. I think she's drifting closer to the undertow, because she told me last night that she has a mangled version of the dish floating around in her head. She calls it Fauxturken "qbullet.smiley".

I may not be able to publish it here after all though, as I think she is going to try to publish it at her newspaper, and later syndicate it. But I'll work on her, since I think everybody would enjoy it. And you thought Halloween was over, Ooooh!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:22 PM

Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon

I just finished reading this book by Joe Queenan, who makes his living reviewing movies, but clearly feels free to roam farther afield. The thrust of the book is an overview of all that is low-culture in America, from, of course, Red Lobster to Michael Bolton, Kenny G, and their ilk. Queenan claims (for comic affect, to be sure), that in his quest to explore all that is cheesy, all that sucks, in American Culture, he became addicted to it, and had to fight his way out of the morass of trash culture which had trapped him.

I feel a certain resonance with that experience, since I started reading this book expecting a lightly humorous look at all that is cheesy (being addicted to several cheesy cultural phenomena myself, such as anime and 'flying people' movies). As I progressed into the book, I came to realize that one or two such essays were funny, but the more I read, the more mean-spirited it seemed. Yet I could not put the book down. In the end I finished it thankful that it was only 188 pages long.

Do yourself a favor and just pass this book by, unless you too have a rather mean-spirited attitude towards the trashier elements of pop-culture.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:10 PM

December 08, 2000

Nomic

In "Boys, Girls and Rules" I talked about (some) boys' fascination with rules. I can't believe I didn't mention Nomic as an example. If I've mentioned this game in other News Items, I apologize for the repetition, but it is just too perfect an example of rules for the sake of rules to pass over.

From an entry in Memepool, I've got a bunch of related games:

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:00 PM

Blankie

Jean has been complaining that no matter how hot she makes the house, her feet are still cold at night when she sleeps. So I finally broke down and went to Fred Meyer's last night after work and bought her an electric blanket. We used it to preheat the bed last night and she said it was really nice. She was practically giggly. So good purchase.

Before I hit Fred Meyer's, I hit Fry's. I knew exactly what I wanted: a magnet set I had seen on a previous visit. It is like those refrigerator poetry magnets, only the words are related to farm animals, and there are pictures of farm animals on some of the magnets. I plan to give them to Kelly on Christmas night, to soften the let-down of the holiday ending.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 AM

December 07, 2000

Lunch Treat

My boss, Ernie, treated our group to lunch at the Chart House today, to celebrate a successful release of two of our product lines. I had the Broiled Salmon, along with Cheesecake. Yum. Gonna have to work out tomorrow!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:55 PM

December 06, 2000

Family Meeting

We had our little family meeting with Kelly last night. I laid down the rules for behavior at home, and described the toy jail. Kelly was given the opportunity to ask questions, state her feelings and generally participate. She seems to get the concept. Now all that remains is to execute on it. This sort of thing seems to work out over a period of a couple of weeks, so while I'll update reports as they come in, success or failure is a little farther off.

Jean and I were also sure to let Kelly know that we were both quite proud of her improvement in behavior at school. I emphasized that this was probably at least partially a result of the enforced breakfasts and bedtimes. She was very happy with the praise.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:05 AM

Bust a Game Title

Since yesterday I referred to Bust A Groove as one of the games I wanted on PS2, I thought I'd better mention that there is a nearly-identically-named game, which is nothing like Bust A Groove. It's called Bust A Move and is a puzzle game involving popping bubbles. Doesn't really sound like my cup of tea.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:56 AM

December 05, 2000

Games, Games, Games!

I've pretty much decided that I'll be buying a Playstation 2 (PS2) when they become more readily available (Spring 2001, I'm told). This'll be the first game console I've bought since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Already the gap between the SNES and current systems like the Playstation (PS1) are massive. Granted we are talking a six or eight year gap here. When I get a PS2, the gap will be more like ten or twelve years.

I took my SNES to "NOVA" this weekend in hopes of comparing it with Alan's PS2. I showed the classic Streetfighter II, and as luck would have it, someone else brought a Playstation, so we could see the difference. Flat 2-D characters with blocky rendering and jerky movement were what you saw on the SNES. On the Playstation, you saw coarsely rendered human caricatures, but blocky on the polygon level, rather than pixel. And the characters were viewed in the round. You'd be able to see them from any angle, not just viewing the 'stage' where the 2-D fighters meet on SNES.

So I'm fighting Tom on Streetfighter II, and Tom claims to be a casual gameplayer at best. Still, he's beating my hiney every round. He finally lowered the 'agressiveness' setting in the options screen, and I managed to beat him once. Does this really seem like the description of the person who should be buying a PS2? Not if I'm expecting to beat folks in hand-to-hand gameplay. But consider the three games I plan to buy:

As you can see, less emphasis on shooters and fisticuffs, though there is some of that with Oni. The real test won't happen until I actually have the gear in hand, by which time it will be too late. But my experiments with myself on the SNES are at least pointing the way to some success if (when) I get a PS2.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:40 PM

Anime Music

This week's album is FLCL Addict: Original Soundtrack. Folks in the anime subculture also call it Furi Kuri. This is the soundtrack to the anime I'm supposed to be writing a review of. I'm kinda behind schedule, since I'm at a loss for what to say. I've been pondering this as I consider what I want to write, and I think it devolves to two issues.

First, my review style is somewhat sarcastic, and a little bit absurdist. But Furi Kuri is all that and more. It in effect is stealing my thunder "qbullet.smiley". Second, most of what I want to say about this story hinges on events in the story, and thus, any review I currently feel I can write would be riddled with spoilers. I'm working right now on how to get around these problems (problems with me, not Furi Kuri).

Getting back to the CD: this is a mixed bag. All the songs which I know and love from watching the first three episodes of the OVA five or six times (Dan is reimplementing the subtitles to be more readable, so we get to see each revision) are there. Also all the incidental music that I recognize. The album is pretty much reliable guitar rock. However, it is very repetitive, which is okay as background music to an OVA, and I suppose okay as background to serious coding, but for deep listening it soon falls down.

"FLCL Original Soundtrack"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 AM

Musical Interlude

In my office is an HP Visualize PL-Class PC, running Redhat Linux 6.0 (soon to be upgraded to 7.0?). Attached to the CD audio port is a Benwin BW2000 speaker set. When in need of music, I fire up the Linux CD player and fill my office with sound. Last week's album, repeated numerous times, was Kid A by Radiohead.

I have eclectic musical tastes, ranging from opera, crossing over Rogers and Hammerstein, into typical Rock. But the world of music is huge, and I've been spending most of my allowance on computer geegaws and anime for the last several years. Thus it is that I am able to hear this album without having heard anything by this group before. This despite their being the critical darlings who have 'reinvented' themselves with each album, radically altering their style each time, as per the review of Kid A above.

All I can say is that I enjoyed Kid A, that it reminded me of a fusion of Brian Eno's Ambient Music, Bauhaus/Love And Rockets and the Moody Blues. When one reviewer made a reference to Joy Division:

Radiohead render creeping unease and desolation incandescent. I'm reminded of Joy Division, another band that alchemized gloomy, banal alienation into crepuscular beauty. "Kid A" is one of the loneliest records I've heard in ages. Perhaps because of that, it's also one of most comforting.
Michelle Goldberg

I shouted "Yes!". Interestingly enough, when I searched for links to Joy Division, the one above includes a quote by a reviewer in Melody Maker, stating that Joy Division inspired "U2, Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Radiohead and countless others." So I am not alone in my intuitions.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

DSL == Delayed Somewhat Longer

Here's a missive launched by my ISP's sysadmin/owner just yesterday:

From support Sat Dec 2 10:32:04 PST 2000
Subject: DSL Service

I just got the following message from my DSL wholesaler. The words I
have for the short notice are unprintable. I've sent individual mail
to the current DSL subscribers, and I've contacted another wholesaler,
but for now, I've no way to offer DSL service. FYI...

"As you probably know by now, IWBC's network is down due to financial problems. Like many Internet companies, we are dependent on investor funding and are currently experiencing difficulty receiving capital that was previously committed to us.

"Our frame and DSL service is expected to shut down next week. Please take immediate steps to transfer your frame and DSL customers to another provider. All hosting accounts must also be moved.

"We apologize for the inconvenience."

I have yet to write to the sysadmin to ask what I should do with the DSL modem sent to me by the collapsing wholesaler...

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:38 AM

Teacher Conference

We had our conference this morning with Mrs. Wentzell, Kelly's kindergarten teacher. There were no problems to report. Kelly is not the shining star of the class, outpacing all of her classmates, but she is doing well in all the categories that the teacher tracks. In the parlance of my workplace's review forms, she 'meets expectations', but does not 'consistently exceed expectations'.

We got to see samples of her 'writing' from the start of the school year and from now. It is amazing how much she has already progressed. She still gets some characters reversed, and they are spindly, but still recognizable.

Mrs. Wentzell assures me that the trouble I'm taking with Kelly in the morning over her breakfast is making a tremendous difference in her behavior in class. I suspect that the earlier bedtime is helping also.

Now we need to begin fine-tuning Kelly's priviledges at home to suit her behavior. She hasn't been giving me any problems, but Jean says she is getting sassy and won't even go to her room when she's told to. So when I get home tonight, the plan is to feed her, let her blood sugar get to a respectable level, then lay down new ground rules for home behavior.

As I told her when this school misbehavior business started, she is allowed to make a lot of choices for herself so long as she shows that she can behave in a pleasant manner. But when she lost control of herself, she lost the priviledge of choosing her own breakfast and how much to eat. The same will go for home now. She will be told when and how much and what to eat. She will be expected to go to her room when told. If not, then we will begin selecting from her favorite toys and placing them into a 'toy jail'. From there, she can bail them out with good behavior. Failure to behave will result in the toys in 'toy jail' being sent away for good to new homes (Goodwill).

We'll see how that works. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:25 AM

December 03, 2000

Two Steps Forward...

Sunday night is here, and I find myself looking back at a weekend of failure. In terms of my dietary good behavior, anyway. On Saturday afternoon, after taking Kelly to see a rather good Santa Claus (and there were no lines), we went to Yeatsy's Mexican Cafe, where I ate all the corn chips and salsa set before me, then had a chicken enchilada with rice and beans. Ate it all I'm afraid. But I didn't order dessert!

Saturday evening was "NOVA", and as is often the case, Tom, Alan, James and I went out to eat. But instead of grabbing a quick byte at Wendy's, James blurted out that he wanted to eat at Busch Soba, located in Uwajimaya Asian Grocery. We went, and I had a bowl of soba and a plate of sushi. Ate it all again. Ughh.

Then we went to a movie after "NOVA", The Sixth Day, a typical after-NOVA movie. I had popcorn, pop and candy. Talk about backsliding.

Today I ate a small and healthy breakfast, but ate a lunch bought at McDonald's when I took Kelly there to play in the playland. Now with dinner looking me in the face, I'm planning to have a small amount of Dover Sole, some veggies and maybe a V8 juice. Wish me luck "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:42 PM

December 01, 2000

Seamus Heaney

Several years ago I stumbled across the poetry of Seamus Heaney. He is an Irish poet, who has won the Nobel Prize. I currently own Selected Poems 1966-1987 and his translation of Beowulf.

Since Weblogs.com offers the ability to store binary files, I took it upon myself to read one of my favorite poems by Seamus Heaney, Personal Helicon. I don't claim to be a fancy orator, but you should be able to recognize my voice after listening to this MP3. But be warned if you have a slower connection, the file is 668 KB! http://static.userland.com/weblogsCom/gems/terebiweblogscom/Heaney.mp3

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:33 PM

Death Sentence

Yesterday evening at 6:30 pm PDT, a friend came over to our house to watch Kelly. Jean and I took a small carrier containing our visitor, the stray cat, and drove to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin. They inserted a catheter into the cat's leg, then brought him to an examination room where we waited.

In the examination room, the vet inserted a hypodermic into the catheter, and injected a concentrated solution of sedative into the cat. In the space of time it took to depress the plunger fully, the cat departed from this world. Rest in peace.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:57 AM

I Am Mortal

Back pain persists. Probably no walkies today (thank you Barbara Woodhouse for the word walkies, though it isn't in any of the online dictionaries I frequent).

Tomorrow night is "NOVA" night, and I am one of the keepers of the distributed archive. I won't be carrying my crate of videos due to the back. This proves my point, though, about making it distributed in the first place. If one member of the "team" doesn't make it or can't carry his/her portion, the entire archive isn't shut down.

I think instead I'll take the SNES and game carts with me to show the contrast in older versus new consoles and games. Might be worth a laugh or two.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM

November 30, 2000

Turducken

Okay, the holidays saw several mentions of this dish on the various websites I haunt, but I just gotta mention it here 'cause it's so goofy. The turducken is a dish composed of a "15-16 pound semi-boneless turkey stuffed with duck and chicken with layers of delicious stuffing between each bird". Paul Prudhomme is one of the chefs credited with it's creation, and it is often referred to as a Cajun dish, though there are variations, such as the X-treme BBQ III turducken.

One site says it takes about five hours to cook, and feeds 20 people (so it's not quite the pigfest it seems to be [further digression: "[Chef Herbert's] most memorable creation was for a customer from neighboring Texas: a pigturducken, which is basically a turducken in a boneless pig."]).

Oh, and you can order one frozen (not yet cooked) from Cajunstuff second-day delivery for $114.95.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:06 AM

Turducken



Okay, the holidays saw several mentions of this dish on the various websites I haunt, but I just gotta mention it here 'cause it's so goofy. The turducken is a dish composed of a "15-16 pound semi-boneless turkey stuffed with duck and chicken with layers of delicious stuffing between each bird". Paul Prudhomme is one of the chefs credited with it's creation, and it is often referred to as a Cajun dish, though there are variations, such as the X-treme BBQ III turducken.

One site says it takes about five hours to cook, and feeds 20 people (so it's not quite the pigfest it seems to be [further digression: "[Chef Herbert's] most memorable creation was for a customer from neighboring Texas: a pigturducken, which is basically a turducken in a boneless pig."]).

Oh, and you can order one frozen (not yet cooked) from Cajunstuff second-day delivery for $114.95.
http://www.cajunstuff.com/tduckfaq.htm

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:32 AM

Paul Prudhomme vs. Larry Flynt

During my walk in the woods I let Jean know about the turducken news item I'd posted (I told her about turducken this morning and she'd seemed curious about how safe it was to cook, etc.) and that I'd sent her a link to the turducken FAQ. What ensued was a hilarious conversation.

I still maintain that my main reaction to turducken is that it is goofy. Jean mentioned in the morning that it sounded 'disgusting', but I had no idea! During our walk, we were cackling and chuckling at the extremity of our viewpoints. With some thought and probing, she concluded that it was:

Of course all of this was said with a hyperbolic sense of humor, but I was amused and surprised at the same time by her degree of offense. I'm hoping she'll write up her feelings as a rant, and let me post it here as a "Musings" article. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:31 AM

Back Pain Sucks

I don't always know how these things get started, but today I have serious back pain (right around the floating ribs extending halfway toward the front), and I think I know what caused it.

Last night I moved a drafting table to the kitchen from the den, so there'd be a place to put the iBook where Jean could work. It is a lightweight thing, and folds, so it isn't that awkward to move. But I must have picked it up or carried it wrong anyway, because the pain it comes, yes it comes!

I didn't feel more than a dull ache this morning, but it continued to escalate until, by the time I was walking back to my car after dropping Kelly off at Bridgeport, I was hobbling slowly, and had trouble getting into the car. Shifting gears was a pain as well.

It's times like these that I really appreciate my Leap chair at work, which I've mentioned in the past. I've taken two Alleve, which helped enough that I was able to go for a gingerly walk with Jean in the woods just now. But I'm seriously debating going home and reclining with the laptop (I can get into work via a SSH connection). Keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:24 AM

November 29, 2000

Election Night

Kelly and I have evolved a ritual as part of her bedtime
preparation. After her bath she has to pick up her toys, get her teeth
cleaned (toothbrushing, flossing, and flouride pill), then get ready
for bed. As part of getting ready for bed she must choose a pair of
clean underwear. Here is her new ritual:

Kelly will open her dresser, pick out two pairs of underwear, and ask,
"okay, which do you vote for, this one or this one?" I'll pick a pair
and she'll discard the loser. Then she selects a new candidate and
repeats her question. This goes on until she's exhausted the entire
collection of underwear, with the giggles getting more and more
crazed. Sometimes, she'll try to discard my choice, in which case I
protest vehemently about vote rigging.

Recently she took to dumping all my choices in a pile, which she
claimed were the potential candidates, but which she promptly
ignored. I as a rule refuse to vote for green underwear, so when she
holds up two pairs of green underwear, I say "offer me another
choice".

I swear that this has been going on since before the election, and
that I haven't directed or influenced her in any way. Testified this
day, Wednesday, November 29, 2000, by Donald P. Wakefield
"qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:36 PM

Conversations Out of Context

Overheard while walking down the hallway:

We have breathing room...until someone runs out of patience. Then we have no breathing room.

Sorry, it just tickled my weirdbone.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:27 PM

Double Bust

This is just too hilarious not to mention. I'm not sure it's a good deal when spot prices of silver are $4.60 an ounce, but the Washington Mint is offering a "Pre-Inauguration Price Only $29.95" for a one-ounce silver two-headed coin. On one side is the bust of George W. Bush, on the other, that of Al Gore. Hurry though, after the inauguration, the price jumps to $45. And there are "only" 100,000 of these suckers in the pipeline!

Heads, you lose, heads, I lose!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:50 PM

Sleep With The Fishes

Here's where I'm hoping fate is on my side. I've been to the gym, done my exercise, and changed into the only clean shirt I've got left here at work. Then I go back to my office and start to eat some haddock for protein. Oops! Spilled fish juice on my shirt. Now I smell like a haddock.

So I just left a message at home asking Jean if she can bring a shirt down for me when she comes down to walk. It all depends on if she stops at home before meeting me <crosses fingers>.

I have soaked the offending spot and sponged it off, but I doubt I've removed all lingering hints. In the meantime I'll just close the old office door. Thank goodness we don't have cubicles here! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:04 PM

Last Week's Buffy

The cool thing about the ReplayTV is that I can have a backlog of things to watch. Last night I watched Buffy, the Vampire Slayer from last week, an hour after I recorded this week's episode. So today's 'best line' is from last week, folks.

In Giles' magic shop, they are discussing how to locate Buffy's latest nemesis, an ancient evil manifesting as a val gal, who mops the floor with Buffy every time they meet. Xander and his girlfriend, Anya, who is now mortal but used to be an evil demon, have an exchange:

[Xander]: Why is it always a cult of evil-reptile worshippers? Why can't we just once be fighting a cult that worships cute bunnies?
[Anya]: Well, thank you very much for those nightmares!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 AM

November 28, 2000

Corner Desks

Office supply stores are a good place to find a middling-cheap task chair, as I can testify sitting here typing away. But they seem to suck pretty good at supplying any other furniture.

My search for a corner desk has skidded to a halt for now, since I've tried every name brand office store in a reasonable driving distance, and found desks that were either too small or too expensive. In a lot of cases, I'd find a price tag that was in line with my expectations only to discover that it was for a fragment of the assembled desk. Sheesh.

Jean has suggested that we also check the local Target and Fred Meyer, as well as branching out to the "real" furniture stores. But since I want to keep the price to $200 or less, I think the "real" furniture stores are out of the loop. Maybe I'm just being unrealistic. But this attitude does come from a guy who once built a computer desk out of particle board, 1X4's and screws. Go figger.

[That desk was the computer desk for my first computer, a Commodore 64, which served me well as an introduction to Computer Science]

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:45 PM

Sister

I got email from Brenda today, just read it. She's got a clean bill of health on the polyp front, but is still suffering from GERD and general intestinal unhappiness. I've had my share of injuries, illnesses and curious new conditions in the past few months, but I feel I've pretty much cleared the woods for now. So I'll be trying to muster my psychic energy and send her a burst of what my wife and I call Chi (our cheap Western corruption of an Eastern term which we take to mean life force).

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:34 PM

I Got It

I got the walk, thank goodness. And tomorrow I'll be doing strength training and a walk, no matter what. Since I'll be spending the majority of the day closeted with the HP-UX 10.20 OS and the C++ compiler and linker, trying to get packages to compile and link which compile and link just fine on every other stinking system we support, thank you very much, I don't think I'll have problems walking out of the office a couple of times (no ambushes by coworkers with interesting problems in other words).

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:28 PM

My Kingdom for a Walk!

I'm dying for a simple walk! Saturday was just errands and watching Kelly. Sunday, while my wife was walking at Mentor, I did chores, then went down and worked over my bike, bringing the tire inflation up to spec, just so I could go for a ride when she got back. But then the cat thing happened.

Yesterday, I went over to the gym and did strength training for my back, but didn't do any treadmill work because I was planning on going for a walk with Jean when she came down in the afternoon. But around 1:30 I was walking down the hallway when I heard "say Don?"

That 'quick question' turned into a two hour meeting that stomped all over the time Jean was down here, so no walk yesterday. So today is when it's gonna happen. Even though Carsten is back after a week's vacation and I need to work with him, even though Ed and Mike want to talk about product stuff for their group, I'm drawing the line, I'm going out when Jean arrives! Carpe Diem!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 AM

November 27, 2000

Rugrats In Paris

I went with Kelly to see Rugrats In Paris this Sunday as well. It
certainly had more plot than Red Planet, and if it had had
Carrie-Ann Moss in it as well, it would have been the hands-down winner
"qbullet.smiley".

The true horror of the movie is that I realize that I'm beginning to
recognize names of folks who work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon
Network. For instance, I spotted the director, Charlie Adler, and
knew that he was the voice actor of Cow, Chicken and the Red Guy
on the Cartoon Network show, Cow and Chicken. More pleasantly, I
was reminded that Peter Chung had played a part in the character designs
of Rugrats (surprisingly, since the art style is not at all
characteristic of him). And of course the original music for the series
is by Mark Mothersbaugh, originally of Devo fame.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:20 AM

Lost Cat

On weekends, Jean typically drives down to Mentor to go for a walk. This
is because Mentor has a nice nature trail loop on campus. Each loop
takes six to eight minutes, and it's fairly idyllic. This Sunday, I was
doing my chores around the house, when I heard Jean on the phone, urging
me to 'pick up'. It turned out that while walking the nature trail, Jean
discovered a cat which appeared injured, and she wanted to take it to a
vet clinic.

Of course, the vet clinics are all closed on Sunday, but less than ten
minutes from our house is the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin,
open twenty-four hours seven days a week. So she brought the cat home,
we got Kelly suited up, and we recovered one of our cat carriers and
headed out with the cat. When Jean found it, it had a collar, but caught
around the armpit of it's left foreleg. She cut it free, but found no
tag. The vet said that it had been lacerated by the collar under it's
arm. His assessment is that the cat is very old, and may have only a
month to live regardless of what care we give it.

Jean's plan is to contact the Wilsonville vet clinics to check their
lost pet lists, then drive the Wilsonville neighborhoods looking for
'lost cat' fliers. She'll post a few 'found cat' fliers on top of
that. We plan to wait a couple of days, then take the cat to a shelter,
since we can't keep it long term, due to already having Grendl, our own
'very old' cat.

Currently, the stray is living in our laundry room, where it is warm,
since the vet said it's temperature was too low. Also it's weight was
about half that expected for it's build. Jean says she thinks fate or
God or whatever directed her to take the cat and see that it's last days
were not spent freezing and starving. I hope we can reunite it with it's
owner too, but at least it isn't dragging itself through the bushes like
when Jean found it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:11 AM

November 26, 2000

Musically Minded

A few weeks ago I was at Fry's Electronics and I saw a DVD for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Naturally, I had to buy it. This is one of my two most favorite musicals, the other being The Music Man.

Friday I started watching it, with Kelly. I'm often surprised what she'll find interesting. You might think I shouldn't let her watch it, since it has a rather dated sexist motif, but it is generally a classic farce, so I explain to her that the sexism is just part of that other era, and that she may encounter it in her own life, so better to see it now.

My two favorite roles from this show are Zero Mostel as Pseudolus, and Jack Gilford as Hysterium. Many other roles are cool, but these guys have most of the comic power. Phil Silvers has his moments as Lycus too.

We are about one third through the show, and I don't know if Kelly will sustain her interest. If not, I'll watch it myself, but I think she would enjoy most of the music. Funny, but though I've seen this show several times over the years, I never realized that the music and lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim. That would explain why the songs are so much fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 AM

DSL Again

The 30th is supposed to be the day they turn on the DSL. I'll send them mail tomorrow evening to see if it is happening, or being postponed to the millenium. Any bets?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 AM

Got Milk?

Nothing like getting up in the morning and discovering there's no milk. Of course in our house, this doesn't mean making a trip to the store. It means getting out the powdered milk and making up a new batch. The plus is that you are never very far away from having milk, but the minus is that you still have to do some work. Would I prefer getting dressed, getting into the car and driving to the grocery store and back, to making a pitcher myself? God, it's hard to choose...

Fortunately for me, I've started buying a bunch of Rubbermaid fluid containers, 1 pint in size, with screw-on lids which have a pop top. Taking one package of powdered milk, I can make two of these containers, with far less effort than making up a pitcher. In about three minutes, I had milk for my breakfast, and milk for Kelly's cereal and chocolate milk. When Jean gets back from her walk, I'll make more. Honest!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:28 AM

November 25, 2000

SNES Purchases

I got the bright idea of looking for used videogame shops in the Yellow Pages, and found a few. One close by said that they had lots of game cartridges for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the console Kelly has been playing with. So I drove over, and ended up buying three games. Here's a synopsis:

I tried playing Mario Kart first without Kelly, and at least for me, it was hard. When Kelly tried it, she got frustrated and gave up. Conclusion: she's too young for games requiring real coordination -- and I'm too clumsy "qbullet.smiley".

Kelly tried Street Fighter II, played a few rounds, but I had a few more wins against her than I usually do with Ranma 1/2. She didn't like that, and so she ended up wanting to play Ranma 1/2 again. The difference between SFII and R1/2 seems to be that R1/2 allows a player who just mashes buttons fast to win frequently. SFII seems to require some level of dexterity and skill. Again, for the five-year old, too much too soon.

I'm not disappointed by this experiment. It was a cheap way to let me know if Kelly would be joining me in my PS2 experiment. Now I'd say the answer is no. In fact, I am happy that the games she really enjoys, such as Freddi Fish, involve thought and creativity. Let's leave it at that for now. As for Ranma 1/2, getting my butt whooped by my five-year old daughter occasionally is good for the soul "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:26 PM

Just Six Numbers

Just finished this book, by Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and a professor at Cambridge. Among other things, it takes the anthropic principle one better. Demonstrating that six simply described constants can measure the complexity and habitability of our universe, he reviews the history of physics in the light of the 'fine-tuning' necessary for our species (and indeed our universe) to exist.

While not confining himself exclusively to the question of 'why are we here?' and referencing the anthropic principle, it is one of the main thrusts of the book. The kernel is that he feels there may be indirect evidence (if not now, then eventually) for a plethora of universes, where the six numbers all vary, with the majority of universes being sterile. Given this, it is not so far-fetched to say, "if our universe was inhospitable, there would be no sentient life to ask why it is special".

Next in the queue: Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America. I've got this on request with the library, and found out about it while browsing weblogs. I think I saw it on Kottke.org. The Amazon.com link above contains the quote:

Queenan sets out to find music, movies, books, and TV that transcend awful, and the most remarkable thing about this book is that one never doubts for a moment that he actually subjected himself to all of the horrors he describes (including the literary efforts of Joan Collins).
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465036724/o/qid=975218194/sr=8-1/ref=aps_sr_b_1_3/002-0193395-5232021

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:10 PM

November 24, 2000

More Games

I was in the bedroom talking to Jean to help her get sleepy (ain't that a terrible talent to have?) and I was telling her about my last log entry. She reminded me that at the arcade I used to try to get her excited about Asteroids, but she would always prefer Zaxxon:

[Jean] "I wanna shoot things!"
[Phin] "You can shoot things in Asteroids!"
[Jean] "I don't like that, it's too abstract."

And when I told her about the study that stated that women didn't like games that involved shooting, preferring games like Pac-Man, she just shrugged.

Other games we played:

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:53 PM

Games and Me

Way back when I first met Jean, we were of course both poor college students (or in my case, poor college dropout "qbullet.smiley"). We'd go see a movie occasionally, for which I'd dig into my old stock of albums and sell a few. Eventually I ran out of albums, but by that time, Jean realized I was serious about her "qbullet.smiley".

One of the other things we used to do for entertainment was to each take five dollars, go to the game arcade and buy as many tokens as that would fetch, then play games until the tokens ran out. As we got better, the tokens lasted longer. Jean and I played more games of Zaxxon than I care to remember.

When we became more financially secure, we bought a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES. We had some Mario game, Donkey Kong Country, and my Ranma 1/2 fighting game. Jean played DKC all the time, until she quit because she realized just how much time she was sinking into it. When she got pregnant, I bought her a Sega Gamegear (color handheld game system) to play at the hospital, but of course she wasn't in any real mood to do it.

So the arcade games faded into the past, and the consoles went into the closet. As I got older and my reflexes got rustier, I played fewer games of this type. Instead, I've gotten more into Web design, software engineering, trolling the Internet, and so on. When I did play regular computer games, they tended not to be shooters like Doom, but strategy games like Warcraft. But even those held my attention less than learning a new programming paradigm, like functional programming.

As I've been hanging out with some friends at "NOVA", they have shown me all their neat games, and the cool new game consoles that have been coming out, such as the Sega Dreamcast. It was when they showed me the game "Bust A Move" on the Dreamcast, that I began to think that there might be hope for gaming after all.

The game is a dance competition, either between two players or the player and the computer. The computer shows on the screen what dance moves you must do, and the player who keeps closest gains points. When you are winning, your image shows up on the Jumbotron behind the dance stage. Eventually a winner is decided, and that player gets to do a solo freestyle dance.

This was just so much fun that I decided that game consoles might be worth something after all. I found out that Sony was coming out with a next-generation game console called the Playstation 2, or PS2. When I heard that it would also play DVDs, I resolved to get one. The release date recently arrived, and all the units sold out immediately. You can't get one, and might have to wait until Spring.

That's when I started thinking that I'd buy a PS One and use it to try out a few games before the PS2 was available again. But in the back of my mind, a PS1 wasn't worth it unless it gave value to Kelly too, who is having a blast whooping me on the SNES playing the Ranma 1/2 game. So when I took her to Fry's today, I playtested her on the PS1. She obviously enjoyed the idea, but just as clearly was overwhelmed by the complex controller and confusing action. So I've resolved to hold off on getting a console until the PS2 is easier to get. Then the first game I'm gonna buy is "Bust A Move" "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:20 PM

Today's Activities

I went down to Mentor after Jean's morning walk, to exercise and do a little work. In the afternoon Jean dropped Kelly off at my office so she could go for her second walk of the day. Kelly played in the office, and didn't distract me too much. When it came time for Kelly to go home with Jean, she said she wanted to stay with me. I told her that she could if she let me work.

That worked out okay especially as my last few chores included burning a CD Rewritable of a few things I needed on my home machine:

She played patiently in my office as I ran from office to office swapping CDs and checking files. All the while this was going on, she was listening to my Japanese soundtrack album to Bubblegum Crisis, an anime that was popular about the time I was first getting into it.

Afterwards I dragged her with me to Fry's Electronics, which is just south of where I work, to look at corner desks to replace the old one in the den as a computer desk. While we were there, we fiddled with the PS One (Playstation, compact edition), and I concluded that she wasn't ready for it, although she does enjoy the Super Nintendo Entertainment System we had buried in the closet, and the single game we still have, Ranma 1/2 Hot Fighting Action! "qbullet.smiley".

After that I took her home and went to Staples to check out their selection of corner desks. No good deals there. We'll try out Office Depot this weekend if time permits.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:59 PM

November 23, 2000

The Return of Flower Girl

We had an interesting Thanksgiving Day meal this year. Instead of Jean and Kelly and I sitting down together to eat our afternoon meal, Jean and I were joined by Flower Girl. She had come in from the cold to visit Kelly, and Kelly decided that Flower Girl looked too thin. So Kelly stayed in her room, and Flower Girl joined us at the table. Flower Girl looked remarkably like Kelly, except for the petals surrounding her face. And the petals surrounding her face looked remarkably like a ring of pink fabric formed by placing the remains of a lycra skirt on her head. But there you go. "qbullet.smiley"

After enjoying her meal, which consisted of:

Flower Girl visited with us for awhile. Jean then drove down to Mentor to go for a walk in the woods, and Flower Girl and Kelly took turns watching cartoons on the couch with me. I thought it strange, but I never saw Flower Girl and Kelly in the same room together.

[puts on glasses] "I'm Clark Kent!"
[takes off glasses] "I'm Superman!"
[puts on glasses] "I'm Clark Kent!"
[takes off glasses] "I'm Superman!"
[puts on glasses] "I'm Clark Kent!"
[takes off glasses] "I'm Superman!"
[with a peeved look] "HellOOOooo!"

Anyway, Jean returned, and I went out for my exercise. When I returned, Kelly was in the room with Jean. Kelly informed me that Flower Girl had gone home. It turns out that Flower Girl visits but once a year, during the main meal on Thanksgiving Day. I look forward to her next visit.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 PM

Radio Userland Nausea

Well, much as I love this weblog (i.e., the free editing interface, the free server, the free filespace), I have to say once again that Dave Winer's software is not for the casual user. I tried downloading and using the (yes, free) beta of Radio Userland as a remote editing tool tonight. I had read on Scripting News that it was an easy way to edit a Manila site (which these weblogs on Weblogs.com are).

After about an hour of reading all the most likely documentation, and trying and failing to proceed, and watching Radio Userland repeatedly pop up a dialogue to inform me about a missing file (why would I care?) I finally gave up. Into the trashcan with the RU folder. No, I didn't search the Radio Userland mailing list archives. I said casual user, remember?

It really isn't that big of a surprise. Documentation on Userland software has always trailed functionality, at least when I followed that sort of thing. And I'd guess you have to have a huge commitment to learning the system, since when this thing comes out of beta, it'll likely cost something similar to Frontier (another Userland product), which goes for nine hundred some dollars a year. Too rich for my pockets.

So I'll just keep using the forms interface to Weblogs.com, and accept that that's going to be the only way I'll be editing this weblog (that and precomposing articles in BBEdit). Unless you are a professional webmaster, or a young person with lots of time and energy, you probably should too.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:26 PM

November 22, 2000

QOTD and Editorial


Installing Mailman, by the way, was a barrel of laughs. Like most open source software, "it's only free if your time is worthless." Sob.


Joel Rosenberg

I partially agree with this sentiment, but it isn't that bad. I tend to side with Cameron Barrett, who linked to an article whose headline was "Free Software Isn't Free". His one-word editorial comment: "Duh!"

I don't think I'll be giving away any secret advantage to say that IC Station uses an open source XML parser, called expat. That was painless. I'm currently evaluating a scripting language with GUI bindings which are all open source, and there is a bit more work required on our side to make this commercially robust on all the platforms we want to use it on. But I expect this much when there is no organized vendor driving things.

And commercial software is no better. We have more headaches with HP's workstation OS, HP-UX, than I care to enumerate (note to lawyers, this is my opinion [and a lot of other peoples'], get over it). So open source is just more of the same.

I'd say the key distinguishing trait of open source software is that the documentation is often less than complete. If you were looking to volunteer on an OSS project and make your name, would you choose documentation? Of course not. That's boring. It ain't glamourous.

So if you're preparing to use OSS, be prepared also to dig for documents. Scour DejaNews, search for mailing lists for the software in question, especially archives. Generally, just dig. You'll probably even end up looking at the code. Gasp! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:46 AM

Holiday Early Start

I'm at home right now, waiting for my whole wheat bread to be done. It's been too long since I last did this. The bread is going to be flatter than it should. I think I killed the yeast during the first rise cycle with a too-hot oven (I usually set it on 'warm' to give the yeast a nice home). Even so, it will still be a rich bread, meal-unto-itself, but it won't be crumbly, fluffy stuff as well. Too bad.

The chili is done, and Jean had some with her lunch. She says it was good, but needs to 'marinate'. The spices and juices soak into the tofu and mix with the beans and tomatoes to give a much richer taste after 24 hours in the refrigerator. I look forward to eating it tomorrow.

After the bread comes out, I'll head on down to work to spend about ninety minutes doing strength training in the campus gym. I find it helps my back, forestalling and sometimes even preventing back problems. It definitely reduces generic chronic pain. When that is finished, I'll stop by the office for a couple of hours to do some self-study work. I think I'll also add a builtin to IC Station to query the application's window and visual IDs (under X Windows).

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:30 AM

November 21, 2000

Thanksgiving History

In my continuing effort to include some authentic history into the mix of commercialism surrounding most U.S. holidays, here are a couple of links to historic Thanksgiving documents:

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:30 AM

Kindergarten Peeve

Every morning I drop Kelly off at Bridgeport Elementary School. And just
about every morning, I get annoyed with people who don't think, or only
care about themselves.

Bridgeport has a large traffic circle, lined with lots of parking
spaces. The traffic lanes themselves are narrow. At the time I am
arriving, schoolbuses are arriving, and other parents are dropping off
their kids who don't use the bus. Invariably, several parents decide
that they'll stop in the middle of the traffic lane to drop their kid
off. The car will stop, with several cars behind it, the kid will
begin to gather up his or her stuff, climb laboriously out of the
car, then open the front door and give their parent a kiss or
hug. Finally, they will move on, and the parent, once certain their kid
is out of the road, will trundle slowly off. Then it repeats again
with some other jerk
.

Why oh why can't these idiots just pull over out of the traffic
into one of the parking slots if they are going to eject their kid from
the car instead of walking them into the school? Answer, it wouldn't be
as convenient for them. They think it might add all of two
minutes to their time at the school. But the idiots don't realize that
since they and all their idiot friends do this, they spend five or
more minutes queued up behind the other selfish jerks
stopping in the middle of the traffic lane. What a bunch of maroons!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:43 AM

November 20, 2000

Cornucopia

Thanksgiving is coming up. Mentor gives me both this Thursday and Friday off to celebrate. Jean and Kelly and I will be staying home for the holiday, with no visitors. In the last few years we've always flaunted tradition, preparing Cornish game hens and something light for the Thanksgiving Day 'feast'. This year we are not to get off so easily.

Apparently Kelly has been getting an education on Thanksgiving, including all the traditional trappings. So she is insisting on a real Turkey, real cranberry sauce, real yams, and so on. Jean has volunteered to make all of this, so long as I make a few items which are not traditional.

So I'm digging out my two favorite recipes:

Maybe if I'm feeling industrious, and not too worried about copyright infringement, I'll copy the recipes out here before Thanksgiving.

I make the chili recipe infrequently, and we always enjoy it. The bread recipe used to be a regular staple in our household before Kelly was born, but alas I've not made it for years. When something takes five hours to make, you have to be very motivated. But since this is Thanksgiving, and Kelly seems to be getting into it, I'm starting to get motivated. In fact, I've decided to use some of my vacation time to do the food prep on Wednesday, so that Jean can have the kitchen free and clear on Thursday!

Hmmm, wasn't it just a few News Items ago that I was fretting about being unable to get below 207 pounds?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:01 PM

Referers

I was looking at this Web site's referer logs, and was surprised at the number of links from Google. I didn't think that their search engine bots crawled this site. All to the good, I suppose. Maybe I'll start using Google for my own searches.

In reality, I was checking the logs to see if I could recognize my sister's ISP accessing this site. But I don't know what it is, so I'd be guessing. Moreover, weblogs.com's referer logs only look at the last 24 hours, so unless I checked it every day, I could very well miss her visit. Therefore, I'll just say, "Hi Brenda!" "qbullet.smiley" http://terebi.weblogs.com/stats/referers

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:32 PM

A Handful of Dust

I just finished reading this book (by Evelyn Waugh) last night. It was late when I finished, and moreover I wasn't sure I knew what I wanted to say about it, so I decided to sleep on it. After approximately 22 hours, I don't think I've clarified my thinking. The book was by turns a comedy and a tragedy. At times I believed I was reading P. G. Wodehouse, and at others, Joseph Conrad. The ending was positively bitter in the fates meted out to the main characters, at least to Tony Last. Brenda Last got less than she wanted, and more than she deserved.

On the whole, it appears to be a portrait of a society of drones, sometime after the Great War. Many of the characters are likeable, but on closer inspection have far too little self-awareness to supply enduring charm. I chose this book over Brideshead Revisited because I wanted to see something of Waugh outside his most popular work. Now I think I'll definitely add BR to my list, but I'll certainly want to read a few books in the interrim to give it freshness.

Books currently open, which may or may not get finished:

There are others that I pick up now and then, such as the book on the Haskell programming language, which is a functional programming language. I read this to stretch my mind. Then of course we've got the subscription to Scientific American now, and I'm gonna buy the next issue of Atlantic Monthly to continue evaluating it for a potential subscription (at $10 per 12 issues it's cheap, but if I don't read it, not that cheap).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:22 PM

Ankle Curse

After I wrecked my ankle (second-degree, not enough for surgery, but good enough to debilitate), going to the gym became an iffy proposition. I was very good about it for awhile, doing strength training as a substitute for running. As I recovered, I began to tape up my ankle and go running lightly. Continuing pain in my ankle led me to reconsider this. Dr. Selby's Physician Assistant told me it would be six to eight weeks to a full recovery. But at my physical last week Dr. Selby himself said it would be more like six months, and I'd never have full strength back. Pee yoo!

I began shifting over to walking about three weeks ago, which has become a great boon to me, since Jean comes down to Mentor and walks with me for 45 to 50 minutes each day. During these walks we get to talk to each other in a depth of detail which just doesn't happen at home anymore. Kelly is a natural interruption machine. She'll sit watching cartoons silently for an hour, but within moments of Jean and I starting a conversation, she is butting in asking silly questions, sharing imaginary incidents, and otherwise breaking the flow of our conversation. We now tell her "Mommy's talking to me" or "Daddy's talking to me", but by then, we've already lost our concentration.

So the walks are beneficial in two ways. The first keeps my heart healthy, and the second keeps my relationship with Jean healthy. The downside is that I don't feel right going to the gym for a full workout when I'm already walking close to an hour a day. But I really need more vigorous exercise to shed some of the extra weight I've gained since wrecking my ankle. I was up to 218 pounds. I've managed to get down to 207, but I've stalled there for the last two or three weeks.

So I went to the gym today, and the plan is to work up to a regular two or three days a week, doing just strength training. I'll monitor my weight, and if this doesn't cause a dip, I'll start taking my bike down, and skip one or two days of walking with Jean to do more vigorous biking. Frankly I hope the weight training suffices, since I really enjoy the walks with Jean.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:49 AM

November 19, 2000

Sunday Activities

Not much going on today. We went for a walk down at Mentor, or rather Jean and I did. Kelly rode in a stroller which is several years too young for her. That was additional exercise, since the area we walk at Mentor is a gravel nature trail. Try pushing a stroller with small wheels along a loose-gravel path and you'll get a workout too.

When we got back, Kelly decided that she wanted to warm up with a hot bath. So though it's only 4:30, she's already had her evening bath. She just tried to get me to help her make a sock puppet, but I bowed out. She said, "okay, I'll do it myself". Good for her. I don't have the patience for craft projects. Not that kind of patience anyway.

I don't know if there'll be any truly significant activity between now and bedtime, but I'll be sure to post here if it does! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:32 PM

Red Planet

I went to see Red Planet after "NOVA" last night. The movie is not so memorable that I'd write a full review, but I do have a few comments:

Some reviewers have been attempting to throw this movie a bone by saying it is scientifically accurate, but I don't think so. A character who is supposed to be a geneticist spots a large crab-louse/cockroach critter on the surface of Mars and refers to it as "some sort of nematode". Sorry, but nematodes are worms.

In the climax of the movie, Carrie-Ann Moss gives Val Kilmer CPR, and after successfully resuscitating him, the computer says "stand him up, Commander Bowman". I'm sorry, but in zero gravity, which way is up?

The plot is on the whole very predictable. Some of the special effects are fun, such as the robot, AMEE, and the 'nematodes'. The biggest draw in the movie for me is Carrie-Ann Moss, whom I've had a crush on ever since The Matrix. But as she plays the role of the commander stuck on the ship while the other crew bumble around on Mars, she doesn't really get enough airplay.

Probably the nicest thing I can say about this movie is that when I take Kelly to see Rugrats in Paris I'll think back fondly on Red Planet "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:01 AM

The Chair

We went to Office Depot yesterday, and got a chair. It is labelled a 'Super-ergonomic Task Chair', and works reasonably well. It of course can't compete with my Leap chair at work, but it didn't cost $750 either.

Next on the agenda, perhaps next weekend, is the location and purchase of a 'corner desk' for the kitchen. Corner desks, if you haven't seen them, are made of two sections at right angles, which fit into a corner (Duh!). The type I have in mind also has a keyboard tray in the right angle between sections. If we find one, I'll permanently move the laptop computer charger there so Jean can use the laptop without us having to both be in the den crowding each other.

Longer term, I hope to find a somewhat larger corner desk for the den, to replace the aging computer desk that is there now.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:49 AM

November 17, 2000

Lemurs

Lemurs are my favorite primates. Don't ask why, it's encoded in my bones. Jean has jokingly suggested that we should have a family crest whose animal (rampant, I presume) would be the lemur. For my birthday, Jean and Kelly bought an Oregon Zoo Zooparent sponsorship for a lemur.

As such, I thought it worth noting that scientists have found three hitherto unknown species of lemur in Madagascar:

'It is incredibly rare to discover a new species of primate, let alone three new species,' said Steven Goodman of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, who participated in the study. Other participants were from Germany and Madagascar.
http://www.nandotimes.com/noframes/story/0,2107,500279404-500438292-502803831-0,00.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:08 PM

Election Patter

On the way in to work today I heard two amusing tidbits:

New Mexico has flipped several times, and is now in the Gore camp. This could change again. In the event of a tie, New Mexico law requires a drawing of lots to decide the winner. A state position (governor? senator?) was a tie a few years ago, and was settled by each side drawing a hand of five-card stud poker. Not playing, just drawing. The winner had two pairs.

Advocates of the Electoral College say that direct voting would concentrate all political campaigning in the most populous areas, and that small states and outlying rural regions would never receive visits from the candidates. This might not be a bad thing, however, as it costs regions which are visited.

Portland, Oregon spent $400,000 to $600,000 on police security, traffic control and administration of the various Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates' visits this year. Since, according to Mayor Vera Katz, the city budgets around $200,000 for this sort of thing, the city is feeling the crunch. Portland has in the past tried to bill the campaigns for such expenses, but historically they don't pay.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:55 AM

November 16, 2000

Today's Word Is Gingham

Tuesday night, while watching Red Dwarf with my daughter, one of the characters, Arnold Rimmer, was wearing (for comic effect) what he referred to as a 'red and white checked gingham dress'.

"Hold it," I thought, "isn't that redundant?" I always thought gingham was a red-and-white check fabric. But apparently it isn't. The best online definition is at www.dict.org, but their interface doesn't allow for linking a URL directly to a definition, so if you want theirs, you'll have to type in the word yourself. Instead, you can check out this definition from www.dictionary.com. http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=gingham

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:23 AM

Midsection Report

I had my consult with Dr. Selby today, and considering all the factors:

we agreed that I do not need to rush out today and get a colonoscopy.

We also agreed that my next visit to the Snake Doctor "qbullet.smiley" should be for a colonoscopy rather than flex-sig, and that it should happen on my 45th birthday, two years earlier than he had scheduled my next flex-sig. Then every five years thereafter I get a colonoscopy.

So while most guys have a midlife crisis, I get to have a midsection crisis!

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:00 AM

Busy, Busy, Busy

I've mentioned before how weeks can go by doing routine work and everything is slow, and you hardly ever see your coworkers, then suddenly the dam breaks. This has been one of those weeks where the dam broke. No emergency situations, just Fearless Leaders deciding that we need to ship our next release in January. Ugh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:36 AM

November 13, 2000

Lost Weekend

This weekend was very dissipated. I did all the usual chores and errands, but other than that, I was very unmotivated, skipping the work I brought home from work (work work) and simply reading. Jean said she was feeling tired too. She wondered if the flu shot we'd gotten on Thursday might have had anything to do with it. I still have my doubts, but for hypochondriacs everywhere, consider this from the Red Cross Flu Shot FAQ:

Are There Any Reactions to the Shot?

The most common side effect is soreness of the arm and/or injection site for up to two days. Less common side effects are fever and some fatigue. Allergic reactions are rare; most are commonly associated with an allergy to eggs.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:36 AM

November 12, 2000

Boys, Girls and Rules

I wish I could remember the source of this, and a search of the Internet yielded nothing. But I recall hearing this report, which summarized a study of the game-playing habits of boys and girls in semi-organized games on a playground. The study centered around conflict resolution by boys and girls.

The research concluded that whenever there was a conflict relating to the game, boys and girls reacted differently. Girls it seemed, preferred to resolve differences in a personal way which removed the source of the conflict. Boys, on the other hand, faced with conflict, preferred to argue about the rules "qbullet.smiley".

Over time, I've realized that this is totally on the mark. For an example from my own life, read my musing, "Boys, Girls and Rules".

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:27 PM

Boys, Girls and Rules

Twice a month of a Saturday, I attend a meeting of "NOVA", a club for the appreciate of Japanese animation. It is a social club, and I meet several friends there and go out for a snack as well as watch anime. Some evenings we go to see a movie afterwards.

NOVA has two membership rates: $15 per year, or $1 each meeting. Some members find it more convenient to pay by the meeting, especially if they don't come to every meeting. Recently, we discovered that a video rental store which rents anime would be willing to give a discount to members of our club, but members would need to present a membership card. This is the first time we've seen the need for a membership card.

There was just one problem: how to handle membership cards for people who pay by the meeting. The officers initiated a discussion on the NOVA Mailing List, and a multitude of solutions were suggested. I liked my own: issue a card each meeting, good to the day prior to the next meeting. I even worked out the economics of printing up cards which would be discarded in only two to three weeks, versus the income of $1 per meeting, and showed that we would not operate at a loss.

Other members suggested cards that could be stamped with a date. There were objections that the merchant would find the multiple time stamps confusing. Still others suggested that only yearly members might be allowed to have a card. Some suggested that membership be charged only for access to the archives, or for renting from area merchants. The fine points of each alternative were debated in great detail, with occasional quotes from the club charter. As near as I can tell, all this discussion was driven by our male members.

Then one member, a woman, in fact the woman responsible for the NOVA Web page artwork, suggested that we just give a membership card to everybody, good for one year, whether they paid by the year or the meeting. My first response (which I didn't post, just spoke to my computer monitor) was, "that's not the point!" But of course, on reflection, it was just as good a solution as any other proposed. The difference was that it cut to the central issue, provided a workaround which dismissed the importance of total equity and observance of the rules, and worked.

I wish I could remember the source of this, and a search of the Internet yielded nothing. But I recall hearing this report, which summarized a study of the game-playing habits of boys and girls in semi-organized games on a playground. The study centered around conflict resolution by boys and girls.

The research concluded that whenever there was a conflict relating to the game, boys and girls reacted differently. Girls it seemed, preferred to resolve differences in a personal way which removed the source of the conflict. Boys, on the other hand, faced with conflict, preferred to argue about the rules "qbullet.smiley".

Over time, I've realized that this is totally on the mark.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:22 PM

Boys, Girls and Rules

Twice a month of a Saturday, I attend a meeting of "NOVA", a club for the appreciate of Japanese animation. It is a social club, and I meet several friends there and go out for a snack as well as watch anime. Some evenings we go to see a movie afterwards.

NOVA has two membership rates: $15 per year, or $1 each meeting. Some members find it more convenient to pay by the meeting, especially if they don't come to every meeting. Recently, we discovered that a video rental store which rents anime would be willing to give a discount to members of our club, but members would need to present a membership card. This is the first time we've seen the need for a membership card.

There was just one problem: how to handle membership cards for people who pay by the meeting. The officers initiated a discussion on the NOVA Mailing List, and a multitude of solutions were suggested. I liked my own: issue a card each meeting, good to the day prior to the next meeting. I even worked out the economics of printing up cards which would be discarded in only two to three weeks, versus the income of $1 per meeting, and showed that we would not operate at a loss.

Other members suggested cards that could be stamped with a date. There were objections that the merchant would find the multiple time stamps confusing. Still others suggested that only yearly members might be allowed to have a card. Some suggested that membership be charged only for access to the archives, or for renting from area merchants. The fine points of each alternative were debated in great detail, with occasional quotes from the club charter. As near as I can tell, all this discussion was driven by our male members.

Then one member, a woman, in fact the woman responsible for the NOVA Web page artwork, suggested that we just give a membership card to everybody, good for one year, whether they paid by the year or the meeting. My first response (which I didn't post, just spoke to my computer monitor) was, "that's not the point!" But of course, on reflection, it was just as good a solution as any other proposed. The difference was that it cut to the central issue, provided a workaround which dismissed the importance of total equity and observance of the rules, and worked.

I wish I could remember the source of this, and a search of the Internet yielded nothing. But I recall hearing this report, which summarized a study of the game-playing habits of boys and girls in semi-organized games on a playground. The study centered around conflict resolution by boys and girls.

The research concluded that whenever there was a conflict relating to the game, boys and girls reacted differently. Girls it seemed, preferred to resolve differences in a personal way which removed the source of the conflict. Boys, on the other hand, faced with conflict, preferred to argue about the rules "qbullet.smiley".

Over time, I've realized that this is totally on the mark.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:22 PM

Chair Trek

While at Costco, I looked at their chair offerings. They basically had three chair choices. Two were unadjustable 'manager' chairs. The third was adjustable, but uncomfortable to me. As it is already 3pm, I'll be postponing the next leg of the search until the following weekend. We'll see what Staples has to offer.

On another front, Jean is beginning to get tired of waiting for Carr Subura to locate the exact perfect car for her, and is beginning to research Honda Civics and Honda Accords. If we went with one of these, she'd probably order it from Frey Automotive, an automobile broker whose services are available to members of our credit union. We had good experiences with them when getting our last car, so the Subaru guys had better watch out "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:01 PM

Entitlement

Kelly is in the dog house with me right now. She has had a variety of treats today, and yet behaved badly:

The problem we have here is that Kelly honestly believes that this is her due. She has only to ask, and it is hers. I'm sure this is partly a function of being a five-year old, but it also has to do with growing up in an affluent society. She has more toys now than I had in my entire life (thanks mostly to grandparents). I'm sure I had more toys than my parents ever had.

But it's hard to explain things like the Great Depression to a five-year old. In the end, with days like today, I just get frustrated, tell her she's being selfish, and let her know she's in the dog house for the rest of the day. Maybe someday we'll communicate more clearly, or she'll grow out of it. This sense of entitlement is not attractive.

Rereading the above, I can see that it might seem that I am catering to her sense of entitlement, but it isn't so. She has chores which she has to do, and the treats are usually clearly associated with doing her work. But I will admit that this is all part of fine-tuning our permissiveness...

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:52 PM

Back Pain

I went to bed last night with back pain. Tight muscles around the floating ribs near the spine. This morning I woke up, they were worse. After having a light breakfast, I'll draw a hot bath and soak for awhile, then take some aspirin. I'm pretty sure I strained it lifting Kelly wrong a couple of days ago, but it doesn't really matter. I don't think it is going to blossom into a full fledged spasm. The most disappointing aspect is that I was going to work out at the gym at work tomorrow, but that level of activity is out of the question for now.

Coincidentally, today was going to be the day to shop for an office chair to use with the computer in the 'den'. Jean has been saving money to that purpose, because she knows I have a bad back, and we currently have a mere folding card chair. We don't have enough money to buy an Aeron, or the Leap chair that I have at work (both on the order of $750 MSRP), but anything is bound to be an improvement over the cheap thing we have now.

We were going to go to Staples, and it's true that they have a wide selection of office chairs. But I suggested that since I was going to Costco anyway, Jean and Kelly might want to come along and check for chairs there. The selection will be smaller, but the prices will be lower as well. Since my premise is that any office chair will be an improvement over the card table chair we have, I don't think a huge selection will be much of an advantage anyway.

I'm off to draw my bath! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 AM

November 11, 2000

Home Work

I brought home my book, the GTK+ Programming Bible to read this weekend. So far, I haven't had the time, or when I've had the time, I haven't had the inclination/energy. Which is a shame, since I think this will be pivotal to some of the work I'm going to be doing in the next few weeks.

Carsten and I have been doing research and prototyping for extensions to the functionality of our product, and Ernie, our once-again manager, seemed really excited by the demo we gave him on Thursday. On Friday morning when I came in late (after watching Kelly while Jean worked), I found that he'd been dragging various people over to show them the demo in Carsten's office as well. So now we are greenlight to develop the techonology. The only problem is that they would like to ship the minimal implementation in January. Gaaahhh!

This is so classic and typical of work at Mentor. I go for weeks working on routine stuff, doing research on the side, then the avalanche comes and I'm swamped for several weeks. I can go a month with no interaction with most of my coworkers, when my taskload is light, and then, when the storm hits, I have tons of work, and everybody needs me to interrupt it to help them. Such is life.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:42 PM

Parades

Watching the news this evening I was seeing all the reports on Veteran's Day Parades throughout the state and I got to thinking: just what is the deal with parades? It seems to be a holdover from small communities where nothing much ever happens. In that context it makes sense: half of us will dress up and march down the street, and the other half will stand on the sides watching us go by.

In brief, I don't really see the point.

I think it's different in the case of Mardi Gras and other such events, because then everybody joins in, and it's more like a street party, or a 'block dance'.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:34 PM

Kelly Items

Yesterday Kelly and I went to Pig and Pancake, a restaurant off the highway in Tualatin. It seemed like a typical truckstop restaurant, but themed on breakfast, namely pancakes. This is what Kelly and I had agreed to as our Veteran's Day treat (more properly Day-Before-Veteran's-Day, but since her school was closed, it was still a holiday to her).

I had a stack of sourdough pancakes and a glass of milk. Kelly had a half-stack of blueberry pancakes and cranberry juice. She ate half of her half-stack, and I ate all of mine. Digressing, I guess Friday was my day to be bad, since I had lunch with my friends Burr and Robin at a Chinese restaurant, and that afternoon was Friday Afternoon Club, serving potstickers.

Today, we had the usual rush of chores, grocery shopping and such. Kelly was being rambunctious, so I made her get wrapped up later in the day and we went for a walk around the block. Since she got stung on a walk in the late Fall three times by yellowjackets, this was quite an accomplishment. I made a point of steering her around a location I knew to have a nest. We finished the walk with no incidents, after stopping about twenty times to play "what do you want to buy", where she pretended to be a merchant and sold me goods for as little as one cent and as much as five dollars.

Later in the day we went to Fred Meyers to shop for Kelly's present to Jean for Christmas. She selected a couple of sets of earrings (shhhh!) and we took them home and wrapped them up. She spent the rest of the evening eating her dinner, and watching cartoons. I just finished reading to her from The Long Secret, which is a sequel to Harriet the Spy. Jean is in with her reading her another chapter. With luck, she'll be unconscious in another half hour.

Tomorrow, I'm probably going to take her to McDonald's Playland, which is a McDonalds hamburger restaurant with a large play area inside, suitable for Winter fun. I'm also going to try to drag her along to the mall while I do some of my shopping for Jean's Christmas presents. I have my doubts that that will happen.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 PM

November 10, 2000

Veteran's Day

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, the holiday in which we honor our soldiers who have served in wars throughout history. Some wars were worth fighting, some were stupid, but our soldiers put their lives on the line nonetheless. Veteran's Day has become less commercialized than some of our other holidays, which probably marks the respect many people still feel for it.

On a private note, this is a national holiday, and schools are closed, so Kelly is home today. Jean and I are splitting the work day (neither of our places of business is closed) to be with Kelly. I have the morning with her, though she is still asleep as I type. When she wakes up, we'll go out to breakfast together at a nearby pancake restaurant. After we come back, I'll play with her until Jean returns, then go to work.

At work, I'm meeting my friends Burr Shaw and Robin Albrecht to go out to lunch, thus totally blowing my dietary restraint for this one day! Oops, I hear the patter of little feet. I'll post more later. http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Tower/8476/

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 AM

Coming Attractions

I'll compare notes with a friend of mine who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome and has thus had more than one colonoscopy, but here is my sister's info on colonoscopies:

You've never had a colonoscopy done before. You had a sigmoidoscopy which is only half way up your intestine. A colonoscopy is all the way through. The day before the procedure I take two Bisacodyl Tablets and then two bottles of Fleets Phospho-Soda; one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. The day before is the worst because you are cleaning yourself out. Plus all I can have are clear liquids.

As for the actual procedure, I imagine it is a lot like the flex-sig only moreso. I'll of course be getting the details from Dr. Selby next Thursday, but anticipation can be so much fun "qbullet.smiley". By the way, if all this talk of colonoscopy is making you uncomfortable, rest assured that this is as close to the edge as I'm going to skate in a News Item. If I want to get into sqeamish detail, I'll put it into a "Musings" story, and you can give it a miss if you want.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:39 AM

November 09, 2000

Gridlock

Here's a very good article on why 2.69 million people voted for Ralph Nader, and why the Gore organization is bereft of common sense to imply that Nader 'stole' Gore's votes (quite aside from the fact that I've seen quotes from several professed 'lifelong Republicans' saying they voted for Nader).

This, along with Michael Moore's open letter to Al Gore says it all better than I can... http://www.counterpunch.org/gridlock.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:46 PM

JEOPARDY NOTIFICATION

Yes, that's the official title of my latest email from GTE/Verizon regarding my order for DSL. Recall that they postponed my activation from the end of October to November 10th. I queried them to see if they were going to make that date, and received the following message:

We are unable to process your order at this time. There is no available ADSL hardware in the central office. Your new estimated relief date is 11-30-00.

And I am so relieved to hear that "qbullet.smiley". Bets on the November 30th date?

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

Death and Politics

I'm not a one-issue, litmus-test voter. When considering the candidates, I explore the totality of their stands. This is why it is better that a candidate have some history in public life, so that there exists a record to which you can refer. Bush has been Governor of Texas, Gore a Senator and Vice President, Nader a consumer advocate responsible for many laws we now take for granted.

So this morning in the wavery minutes between waking and getting up (reading Evelyn Waugh's Handful of Dust right now, I wanted to say "between waking and ringing" "qbullet.smiley") I'm in that musing mood where random thoughts and memories are bubbling about, and I conceived the genesis of a musing on one of the issues which shaped my decision in this election. Henceforth, I present "The Death Penalty".

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:20 AM

The Death Penalty

When I was younger, probably still in highschool, maybe college, I saw a
story on television which is just now resurfacing in my consciousness. I
don't remember the show, it could have been Alfred Hitchcock
Presents
, or The Twilight Zone or any of a crowd of others
which thrived on stories with a twist. Anyway, it went something like
this:

A father discovers that his adult daughter has been brutally raped, so severely that she has withdrawn and won't speak to anyone. He comes to her at the emergency room in the hospital, watches her suffer in anguish. Finally he resolves that he will do anything to help her, avenge her, give her peace.

"If you can tell me who did it, I promise he will never hurt anyone
again." He speaks to her, and makes this promise, hoping to reach
her. Suddenly, she sits up, her eyes widen ever so slightly. In a dead
even voice she speaks. "That's him" she says.

"Who?" says the father, looking wildly at the milling doctors, patients,
visitors. "That's him" says the daughter, looking at a man leaving just
then. The father gives pursuit, follows the stranger into a parking
garage, and strangles him with his own hands. His fury at the violation
this stranger has wrought on his daughter is palpable, and the man is
unable to fight him. Soon he stops struggling. The father is horrified
at what he has done, but makes his way back to his daughter.

"I got him" says the father. "He won't ever bother you again."

After a pause, the daughter looks at her father, smiles. Then she seems
to lose concentration, her gaze attracted by movement behind her
father. He turns around to see what she is looking at. It is a doctor,
looking at a clipboard. He hears his daughter speak. "That's him" she
says...

Okay, it was just a television show, but a story is not so far from a
parable. I have a five-year old daughter now, and I can identify with
that father more than ever before. But the point of the story is well
made. Death is final. Anger and fear can blind us to rational
decisions. If death is an appropriate punishment for a crime, can we be
certain that we will really exercise it wisely?

A black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person. And blacks who kill blacks have even less to worry about.

Between 1973 and 1993, at least 48 people on death row were released
after they were found to be innocent, according to a Congressional
subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights.

In Texas in 1991, blacks made up 12 percent of the population, but 48
percent of the prison population and 55.5 percent of those on death row
are black.

Lifted wholesale from TheElectricChair.com

"...Illinoisans have ample evidence that capital punishment is not being administered properly - having seen a rash of cases in which inmates sentenced to death have not only had their convictions overturned but have been fully exonerated. The state came uncomfortably close to executing innocent men. Other states have actually put people to death despite grave doubts about their guilt."
-Chicago Tribune, 3 March 1997

Bush of course has an abysmal
record
on the death penalty, presiding willingly over at least 135 executions
including five retarded individuals during his service as Governor of
Texas. From the San Francisco Bay Guardian we learn that Al Gore is
little better:

BG: What do you think about the Republican governor of Illinois calling a moratorium on the death penalty because there has been so much evidence that innocent people are on death row?

AG: Well, I support the death penalty.

BG: Well, so does he.

AG: I understand, and I also understand that the high-profile cases that
have put a new spotlight on the error in capital convictions have put
this issue in a new light. In Illinois, I don't want to make a judgment
on what the circumstances are because I don't have the expertise.
Nationally, I would not be in favor of a moratorium. The "Hurricane"
notwithstanding.

BG: Are there people on death row elsewhere, or federal death row, who
are innocent? Isn't that something we should be worried about?

AG: I would hope not. But I'll tell you this: I think that any honest
and candid supporter of the death penalty has to acknowledge that that
support comes in spite of the fact that there will inevitably be some
mistakes. And that's a harsh concession to make, but I think it's the
only honest concession to make, and it should spur us to have
appreciation for habeas corpus, for the procedural safeguards for the
accused, and for the fairness that's a part of the American judicial
system and to resist efforts to take away the procedural safeguards.

BG: But what we've seen over the past few years from the courts and the
administration is an erosion, a decrease in the ability to file federal
habeas petitions. Does that bother you?

AG: I think that the pendulum swung so far in the direction of a flood
of habeas petitions that the decisions of some courts to weed out the
procedural abuses is justified.

This is one of a plethora of reasons why I voted for Ralph Nader...

MR. RUSSERT: Are you in favor of the death penalty?

MR. NADER: Since I was a law student at Harvard, I have been against the
death penalty. It does not deter. It is severely discriminatory against
minorities, especially since they're given no competent legal counsel
defense in many cases. It's a system that has to be perfect. You cannot
execute one innocent person. No system is perfect. And to top it off, for
those of you who are interested in the economics of it, it costs more to
pursue a capital case toward execution than it does to have full life
imprisonment without parole.

Ralph Nader on Meet the Press, Sunday June 25 2000

...rather than either of the candidates 'most likely to win'. When I say I
voted my conscience, it's not just some hand-wavy sort of vague eco-nazi
left-liberal wacko fuzzy opinion. I really thought about it, and made a
deliberate choice. Oops.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:56 AM

QOTD


I know that voting for a third party, which is really what I was doing when I cast my vote for Nader, is probably pointless in our winner-take-all system. I don't care. The two-party system has reached a point where it produces nothing better than George W. Bush and Al Gore. Not good enough. The fact that what I'm voting for probably won't happen won't keep me from voting for it.

King Kaufman, for Salon

http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/11/08/nader_vote/index.html?CP=RDF&DN=310

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:10 AM

November 08, 2000

Nader and Others

While Nader did not make a sufficient showing to win Federal funds for the Green Party (I think enough people bought the line that it would be their fault if Gore lost and voted for Gore instead of Nader) I think it is indicative of a small shift away from the two-party system that we have had signficant candidates who were not Democrats or Republicans in the last decade.

Third parties continue to perform the function of forcing the Old Parties to recognize factions of their constituency that they'd rather just take for granted. The typical order of business is for the Old Party to promise the interloper some concessions in the Party Platform, thus allowing the disenfranchised to have their voices heard.

However, in the last few elections, the Democrats have moved closer to the Republicans on lots of issues which impact citizens' everyday lives. I don't know if I'm willing to speculate that the Republicans have moved closer to the middle, what with the occasional pull by Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan. The overall effect, however, is that some have the perception that the parties now offer insufficient differentiation.

More elections have gone by with a third party actually running, not to shovel a few concessions down an Old Party throat, but to achieve legitimacy for their own goals. Appearing on ballots as a peer, receiving Federal funding, in other words, becoming a real national alternative.

I don't think this will happen any time soon, but I do believe that there is a gradual shift coming about, where a small but growing segment of the population no longer believes that they must vote for solely Old Party candidates. As this trend grows, we'll see more examples of an Old Party candidate whining about having "his" votes stolen by an interloper. This is the cry of the dinosaur, watching the small but swift mammal out-evolve him.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:26 AM

STILL Teetering

What a surprising election. This morning it looks like we won't know the outcome until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. Possibly not till the end of the week! What does such a tightly contested race (possibly the closest since 1960), coupled with high voter turnout, mean? I think it means that nobody was satisfied with the choices, and each group of people was desperately voting for their perception of the lesser of two evils. If only more folks had voted Nader "qbullet.smiley".

And to the Gore folks who are going to claim, if Gore loses, that it is Nader's fault, get over it. I voted for Nader, and I never in a million years would have voted for Gore. So you didn't 'lose' my vote, Nader didn't 'steal' my vote. And I wasn't irresponsible by voting for somebody in other than the two enfranchised parties. Jeez.

Another addendum on the Electoral College. As of 11:04am ET, Gore leads Bush in raw votes of around 234,000. In Florida the race is tight, and Bush may have the lead by as little as 2,000 votes. If so, Bush will win Florida, and the election. Despite the majority having voted for Gore (albeit by a pitiful margin). Ain't democracy wonderful?

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 AM

November 07, 2000

Teetering

As I get ready to turn off all the televisions and computers, Bush has 246 Electoral votes, Gore has 242. By the morning it will probably be decided.

Unfortunately, it looks like Nader will not get the 5% raw votes which would get the Green Party Federal funding in the next election.

By the way, the season premiere of the X-Files rocked! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:31 PM

Medical History Redux

I just got off the phone with Dr. Selby's secretary. I'd dutifully left a message with Dr. Selby's office to update my history with the fact that my grandmother definitely died of colon cancer, and his secretary just called back to say that he wanted to have me come in and talk about it.

There isn't much to tell, just that my sister said in an email that my grandmother did die of colon cancer, and my mother might have died of same. But that does put me into the statistically at-risk group, so he wants to talk to me, then possibly set up a referral to talk to a gastroenterologist about it.

Does this mean I get an early colonoscopy? I don't know yet. I'll keep y'all updated as I find out. Oh, and thanks again, Brenda. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:26 PM

Election Coverage

In case you are interested in following the U.S. elections, Presidential and otherwise, on the Internet, here are three links, courtesy of Scripting News:

Of course, all these links will be stale tomorrow "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:19 AM

Please Understand Me

A Business Unit Director of days gone by was concerned that all the folks in his charge work together to ensure our mutual survival. He was sensitive to labels, as one may witness by the fact that he changed his own title to the noted one from Business Unit Manager. Unfortunately for me, he was into the 'touchy-feely' approach to team-building, and hosted an entire off-campus seminar series to 'build the team'.

One of the ways he chose to build the team was to help us all understand each others' personality types. He had a consultant direct the seminar with the help of the book Please Understand Me. This book promoted a Meyers-Briggs type of test for categorizing personalities. Quoting from a review on Amazon.com:

Like the Myers-Briggs system, this test sorts your personality into groups of extraversion/introversion (E/I), sensation/intuition (S/N), thinking/feeling (T/F), and perceiving/judging (P/J). Unlike the Myers-Briggs system, Please Understand Me also presents four easy-to-remember temperament types--Dionysian (freedom first), Epimethean (wants to be useful), Promethean (desires power), and Apollonian (searches for self)--that underlie the 16 possible personalities identified by the test.

When I took the test, I found the questions confused, the categorization a crock, and I published my own interpretation showing how I could fall into any one of three categories depending on interpretation of the questions. I don't even remember the actual code, and I don't think it matters. But my behavior demonstrated an extreme introversion coupled with skepticism and antipathy to bogus touchy-feely testing systems "qbullet.smiley". http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0960695400/qid=973615336/sr=1-2/102-5504995-9728932

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 AM

The Decline of Popular Science Magazines

I just finished reading the first issue of Scientific American to arrive after Jean subscribed. It has been years since I've sat down and read one of these things cover to cover. In recent years, the Internet has supplanted a lot of my science mag reading material. So now I've had a chance to pore over one in detail. Grade: B-

The Scientific American I recall was pretty dense. It didn't talk down to you, but the articles were within reach if you were willing to work a little. The current issue may be an anomaly, but I found the writing on the whole a lot more like that which I remember from Popular Science, another magazine I used to read.

On the whole, I think that the approach to science in mainstream magazines has become lighter, more entertainment oriented. When I was young, I used to go to the Wakefield library (over the firehouse) on a summer morn, and devour every science magazine I could find, including Popular Science, Science Digest and even Popular Mechanics. The more lightweight tone of some of these magazines was ideal for a budding science geek, but as an adult I want more meat.

I'll continue reading the Scientific Americans as they arrive, but I'm also looking forward to comparing it with the weekly New Scientist. And maybe in the future I'll spring for the far spendier Science or Nature.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:44 AM

Antisocial

Thinking about the Goofus and Gallant experience this morning, I realized (remembered, really) that I've always had a component of my personality which was not just introverted, but actively antisocial. A part of me bridles when I see such works of socialization as William J. Bennett's The Book of Virtues : A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, since they harken to a prior age which had as many things wrong with it as it had things right with it.

The Golden Rule is the best moral guide out there, and Bennett's book covers many instances of it. But it also strays into messages which are more arbitrary, in my opinion, giving subtle messages of class and place. Did we read the same book? I doubt it. This is just an illustration of that rebellious streak, that antisocial component of my personality which has not been snuffed out, merely submerged (and sometimes not all that well).

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:38 AM

Goofus and Gallant

Kelly gets a magazine called Highlights for Children. One of the features is Goofus and Gallant, a four-panel comic which illustrates socially acceptable behavior. This morning I'm getting ready for the day and see the magazine open to G&G. The two lessons:

I guess I'm Goofus! I let my wife and kid decide when they are hungry (except on school mornings when Kelly must eat what we specify). And when I've had an argument with Jean, I generally need a while to cool down before discussing things rationally. Just call me Goofus "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:40 AM

November 06, 2000

Medical History Surprise

New developments on the medical history front. While having my physical
today, Dr. Selby gave me the rundown on my various risk factors, given my age.
It seems that folks in their forties who are otherwise healthy have a risk
for colon cancer (low but measurable). Tests include:

I had to have the second, since I had had periodic blood in my stool. It turned
out that I had an 'internal hemmorhoid'. Since flex-sphyg is indicated for
anybody over fifty (if I recall correctly), I just jumped the gun a little.

Dr. Selby emphasized that the idea was to find polyps (finger-like growths in
the intestines) early, at which point they could be nipped off. "A polyp
found is a cancer prevented", says Dr. Selby. So family history is an
additional helpful indicator. If anyone in your family has had colon cancer,
or had a polyp found, that puts you into the genetic predisposition category.
If two family members have had polyps or colon cancer, you get to go
to the head of the class and receive colonoscopies every five years.

So guess what my sister informed me of in my latest email from her? Two relatives,
specifically my mother and grandmother (we're not really sure about Mom), may
have had colon cancer. I will inform Dr. Selby by phone tomorrow, but my guess
is that he'll say it is okay to wait until 2004 when my next flex-sphyg will
be scheduled.

The good news is that colon cancer is 100% preventable, by just such
screening as I've mentioned above. The bad news is that I now get the
joy of colonoscopies every five years. Not a big deal, but really annoying.
Thanks Brenda. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:43 PM

Electoral College Redux

In my News Item of November 3rd, I talked about the mathematician who has published his proof that the Electoral College is a good thing. On the way in to work this morning, I realized that I'd neglected two things:

So whether I agree with the EC or not, the jury is still out...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:43 AM

Annual Physical

I just got back from my annual physical, which if you'll recall, got postponed and led to the detour of my WPW adventure. So now I finally have resolution. Clean bill of health for one more year. That's right, now that I'm over 40, I get one of these puppies every year. Well, most of the exam is a cakewalk. There's just one part I don't like. Most guys my age will understand "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:37 AM

November 05, 2000

Sunday Is Runday

Despite having gotten less sleep than I like (probably logged four or five), I have had a busy day. I did all my prepwork for the week's meals (precooked and froze the fish, Alaskan Halibut, mmm MMM; predistributed the plastic bowls of oatmeal, the packets of corn tortillas, etc.). I put away junk from the previous night, ran two loads of laundry and ate a healthy lunch.

Then Kelly and I went to see the Digimon movie before it left the theatres. Kelly liked it, I thought it was unnecessarily confusing. I can summarize the plot in ten words (but won't). The problem was that they filled ninety minutes with exposition and flashback without adding anything to that ten word plot. Many other anime are a good deal more satisfying. But I shouldn't expect anything much from a Pokemon imitator and toy vehicle.

Once we got home I did all my chores (take out the cat litter, empty and take out the trash, fold remaining laundry). Now I am unwinding and giving you this report "qbullet.smiley". Don't worry, I won't recap this same routine every Sunday.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:13 PM

Caffeine

Went to the "NOVA" meeting last night, watched some Boogiepop Phantom, subtitled, not that that made it any more comprehensible. Went out for a snack with Tom, James and Alan, then got a demo of the Playstation 2 from Alan. After that we watched most of Prodigal Son. By that time, the meeting was closing down, so we went to see Charley's Angels. Totally camp and cheesy, but fun.

Remind me not to drink a caffeinated beverage at a late-night movie again snore... "qbullet.smiley"

Since I was going to be out late, Jean and Kelly hauled out the inflatable camp bed and had a camp-out in the living room. I think Jean got less sleep than she wanted too!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 AM

Anime Expo 2001

Information for Anime Expo 2001 is finally up. And I will be going this year. The funny thing is, the way I found out about it was that it was posted on Slashdot, "News For Nerds, Stuff That Matters". I read it when I woke up early Saturday morning, and was the first to post it to the "NOVA" mailing list.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:24 AM

November 04, 2000

Art Report

I came home from work yesterday evening, and got a treat. It seems Kelly was on a creation binge. I give a brief report in "Kelly's Art".

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:48 AM

Kelly's Art

I came home from work yesterday evening, and got a treat. It seems Kelly was on a creation binge. Being a computer family, we don't lack for scratch paper, so there is always a stack available for Kelly to draw on. Jean told me that Kelly was downstairs with all her pens and crayons, working on her drawing style.

A little background. In years past, when Jean and I were still in Ohio, Michigan and parts beyond, we used to go on expeditions to used bookstores, back when momandpop stores were still numerous. Sometimes they'd have really nice blank books. That is, books filled with bright white pages, and a nice hardcover with some abstract but pleasing pattern.

I'd often buy one (even poor, we could usually afford these, since they never seemed to cost that much then), and present it to Jean. Jean would fill these books with line art. She has a really unique style, though she hasn't done much drawing in the last few years. Each drawing is a picture made without lifting the pen from the paper.

So Kelly would come running up with a picture to show her mom, then get Jean to draw one on the same page. This apparently went on for several iterations. When I got home there was an entire gallery of pictures to look at.

[Later today, when everybody is awake, I'll scan some of them in and post them...]

Kelly's pictures were pretty easy to distinguish from Jean's, but Kelly was frequently laying claim to pictures that her mom had clearly done. I didn't contradict her, just made some smartass comments about the level of detail. Later that night Jean made things clear. It seems that Kelly was so enchanted by her mom's style that she was trying to imitate it in her own 5-year old way, so she naturally thought the other pictures by her mom were her more successful efforts.

In any case, however primitive her drawings, she is showing a marked change in sophistication of her compositions and subjects. I'll keep posting instances of this in the future...

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:44 AM

November 03, 2000

That Sucks...

Jeez, it looks like, when you promote something from a News Item to a Story in Manila, it actually jerks it off the home page. I was doing it because weblogs.com will index Stories but not New Items, and some of my News Items contained links I wanted to be able to relocate. So from now on, if I want to promote a News Story, I'll copy it instead. If you're the person reading my website, you might want to scan the Indexed News page for things you missed...

So anyway, here's a link to my news item on "Philip K. Dick".

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:39 PM

The Electoral College

While I have read this article, and seen numerous references to Natapoff's supposed mathematical proof that the Electoral College is fair and actually "increases voters' power", nothing in the article convinces me. I doubt I'll take the trouble to learn all the math just to agree with or refute his arguments.

Moreover, this analogy is lame:

So it should be obvious that the Electoral College is fair, right? Wrong, for two counts. First, baseball has rules which judge ranking by games won. But most people will agree (at least I think so) that if a candidate gets 55% of the raw votes, they should be assumed to represent the will of the people.

The second problem is that the Electoral College is free to totally ignore the votes in their state. This is akin to getting the most runs in a single game, and having the Commissioner declare your opponents the winner of that game.

This is probably why I chose not to pursue a Masters in Mathematics, back when I was getting my degree in Computer Science lo these many years ago...

http://www.avagara.com/e_c/reference/00012001.htm

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:20 PM

Vote Swapping

I'm amused by the vote swapping hubub. The idea is, some folks want to vote for Nader, so that the Green Party will get the 5% needed to allocate Federal funding in the next election. But in some states, voting for Nader can 'tip the balance in favor of Bush'. So these services hook you up with voters in states where Gore is winning by a clear lead. They will vote for Nader and you can vote for Gore.

The problem with this approach is not that it "corrupts the election process", as California Secretary of State Bill Jones imputes, but rather that they assume too much. What makes you think that if I couldn't vote for Nader, I'd vote for Gore?

And to those tiny minds among you who say voting for a third-party candidate who represents my views is a waste of my vote, how is voting for the 'lesser of two evils' not a waste? http://thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,19890,00.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:29 AM

I Can't Wait!

One more week (says Verizon) until my DSL connection goes live! Uh-huh.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:45 AM

New Scientist

As I mentioned earlier, not to be outdone by Jean's subscription to Scientific American, I have now subscribed to the British science weekly, New Scientist. It is too early to have recieved an issue, but I'm looking forward to finding out how good it is (or isn't). I'll report here as things develop.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:41 AM

Napster

According to a new study by PC Data, Napster users do buy fewer CDs once they get the hang of using the tool. Either this is like the last RIAA-sponsored study, and slanted in favor of the record industry, or I am different than the surveyed folks. My own experience:

Yep, there are also songs that I've sampled which have not resulted in album sales, but that's just smart consumerism. The RIAA doesn't like it that I get to preview the goods before I spend my money. Too bad. With the Bertelsmann deal pending with Napster, I may subscribe to Napster for legal digital copies (but not if they use a proprietary format that doesn't play on the Mac, or the Rio), and then I won't be buying the CD too.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/1/14363.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:29 AM

Cokie Roberts

A couple of elections ago, there was an interesting field of candidates running for election. Amongst them was Jerry Brown, onetime Governor of the State of California, and admittedly a rather New-Age kinda guy. But I thought he had some serious points, and as a third-party candidate, he was willing to address issues which usually get mere lip-service or simply swept under the carpet by the Old Parties(tm).

At the time, I was driving in my car, listening to National Public Radio. It was election coverage, and Cokie Roberts still worked for NPR, so she was doing the reporting on the candidates. When she came to Jerry Brown, she laughed! She laughed! I couldn't believe it. Whatever you may think of Jerry Brown, he was running on an interesting platform, and it was the height of arrogance to simply laugh on a national network at one of the four 'serious' candidates.

So now I find that Cokie is up to her old tricks, and moreover, the problem is more systemic than that. I have to agree with this essay in The New Republic that the entire media are not doing their job in reporting the news surrounding politics, and succumbing to the bread-and-circuses aspect over all.

Anyway, one more week and we get to find out which four year nightmare we get to live through. "qbullet.smiley"


http://www.thenewrepublic.com/110600/cohn110600.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:11 AM

Philip K. Dick



Holy Crap! One of my all-time idols of literature, spanning pulp-scifi hackery to literary genius is Philip K. Dick. And now, browsing during lunch, I find that his Web presence is much larger than I suspected. Go figure.

Guess my Sinkhole o' Distractions(tm) just got measurably larger. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:27 AM

November 02, 2000

Intel Growing

I heard today from a co-worker that somebody who used to work at my company is now at Intel, and is trying to recruit folks. I later heard from Burr (a friend at work) that he was fingered as a prospect. Burr's comment:

If I wanted to work for a company that was almost completely uninterested in software, I'd work for...Microsoft!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:53 PM

Gadabout

Wednesday was a scattered day for me. After dropping Kelly off at school, work started immediately with a meeting. After that, I helped Kirk with a GDSII reader bug until 11:30, when we all drove up to the Red Lobster for lunch with the Egyptians. I ate halibut, too much. Carsten and I stopped at Powell's Cascade Books to look for GTK+ books, and I ended up buying the GNOME/GTK+ Programming Bible. Then we scurried back to work, where we had another meeting, after which I raced to the woods to meet Jean for a short walk around the nature trail. Then back to the office to help Kirk work on his bugs again.

When I got home, there was no rest for the weary, as I had inadvertantly screwed up printing on the Mac when experimenting with the DSL modem. It turns out that when I temporarily unplugged the Airport wireless router hub from my ethernet card, I made Appletalk silently switch to the printer port! So it was spewing garbage to the printer, sitting on the printer port so that no application could send work to the printer, and failing to allow file sharing between the desktop and laptop machines. Switching Appletalk back to the ethernet port made all three bugs magically go away.

I was talking with Jean about this after I had fixed printing but before I had completely sussed out the total pathology, and suggested that this made me want to buy Norton Utilities. But as in the last few cases where I've had problems with the computer, NU would not have told me anything useful. It just took good old-fashioned detective work, RTFM and a bit of cussing.

I got up early this morning to go to the bathroom and as I was heading back to bed, Kelly called out to me. I ended up sitting in bed beside her for the last half hour, not sleeping, and not doing anything useful. I hope she still has a good day today, despite the missing sleep in the morning.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:20 AM

November 01, 2000

Yesterday Evening

Yesterday evening was too busy to allow time for a report that same night. If you're not plugged in to the U.S. calendar, yesterday evening was Halloween, the traditional time for children to run from door to door demanding candy from strangers "qbullet.smiley". I wrote a brief report of last night's festivities which you can now read, called "Kelly's Halloween".

On another front, Verizon did indeed send me the DSL modem that is to go with my account. I spent a half hour hooking all the filters to phone lines, and trying out the modem with my computer. It doesn't work, which is no great surprise. On a more careful reading of Alan's mail, Verizon doesn't have the proper hardware at the Central Office, and won't be able to upgrade their system until November 10th.

So I'll presumably be ready to go in mid-November, but of course I'm a pessimist, or a realistic optimist, I don't know which. I'll believe it when I'm using it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:08 PM

Kelly's Halloween

Kelly had what I consider to be a great Halloween. She wore her fairy
costume: pink bodysuit with flouncy chiffon dress sort of like a large
tutu, yellow 'sequin' shoes, a wand with streamers, and a pair of
diaphonous pink, translucent butterfly wings. She was determined not to
wear a jacket because it would spoil the lines and folks wouldn't be
able to tell she was a fairy. So I carried a jacket with me in case she
saw the light. She never did.

When I came home from work I brought with me an orange wooden pail, sort
of an octagon of planks, with a pumpkin face cut in it. Inside was a
little orange critter wearing a domino mask. Both were a present from my
friend and coworker Brent, bought for us by his wife Jen. Kelly was
ecstatic, and immediately switched from her plastic pumpkin bucket to
the wooden bucket. We started tromping around the neighborhood around
6pm.

Kelly always seemed to want to go to 'that house across the street', and
I was constantly pointing out how we'd get there soon enough. We worked
constantly on appropriate pronouncements:

I know, you're thinking "how anal!" But if you watch the untutored
Kelly, you'll soon see that she can use the routine. Her own tendency is
to hold her bucket up to the person opening the door and wait silently
while they dish out the goods. I told her that didn't play well. In fact
a few people even prompted her themselves to say the T.o.T. words. Then
when she has the 'loot', she just bolts down the sidewalk. No good by my
lights. The best are of course when she spontaneously strikes up a
conversation: "I like your dog", "You have good candy", and "I'm
pretending to be the tooth fairy!" are all samples.

After about an hour of running from house to house, Kelly decided
she wanted to go home, so we headed back. She emptied out her bucket and
promptly ate a sample. Then she announced that she was ready to go out
again! I made her wait a few minutes to warm up, then we headed out to
canvas the parts of the neighborhood we hadn't gotten to yet. This time
it was later, and folks were giving out more candy per kid, as they
figured out how much they had left, so Kelly's bucket filled up pretty
fast. She made me put most of it into the pockets of my jacket, and went
on to fill it up again. "qbullet.smiley"

I timed the final loop to end at our house almost exactly at 7:40pm,
with the intention of getting her into a hot bath and into bed by her
8pm bedtime. After fifteen minutes of stories from me, and then fifteen
from her mom, we bid her goodnight. I checked on her around 8:45 and she
was already out like a light. No wonder, running around outside for an
hour and forty minutes wearing only a costume! Actually I slept
pretty well last night too!

So I'd say it was a success. Sacking the town with my daughter is one of
the three things about Halloween that make it my favorite holiday of
all. The other two are attending the "NOVA" Halloween Party, and the
preponderance of goofy old monster movies on the television in the
preceeding days. Someday Kelly will be too old to Trick or Treat, and I
won't always be a member of NOVA, but I think Halloween will always be
my favorite holiday.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:58 PM

October 31, 2000

Not Like Yesterday

Lunch is about over, and I've only posted three items today! I may post something tonight, but first I'm looking forward to taking my daughter out to sack the neighborhood trick-or-treat.

And if that's not enough, Jean tells me I got a package from Verizon today that might, if I'm very lucky, allow me to start up the DSL connection I ordered early in the month. I'm not holding my breath though.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:07 PM

Halloween Facts



I wanted to add a couple of links about Halloween with more substance, since the fun, spooo-ooky aspect will be covered in loving detail by both the citizenry and the media this evening. So here are a couple of links I found interesting:

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:19 AM

Hair

Does your hair grow faster on the back of your head than on the top/front? Or am I just going bald? Never mind "qbullet.smiley".

Hair
She asks me why...I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night; Hair that's a fright.
I'm hairy high and low,
Don't ask me why; don't know!
It's not for lack of bread
Like the Grateful Dead; darling

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there, hair!

Shoulder length, longer (hair!)

Here baby, there mama, Everywhere daddy daddy

CHORUS:

Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)

Flow it, Show it;

Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 AM

Daylight Shifting Time



On my walk with Jean today, we got to carping about Daylight Saving Time, or as I quipped, Daylight Shifting Time. So why do we have to hunt down all our clocks and shuffle them back and forth twice a year?

www.standardtime.com
Further, a study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called "spring forward" when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead.

And I find it all too annoying. So there!

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:40 AM

October 30, 2000

Soulless Geek Toys

Maybe I should think twice before talking about geek toys, since in theory this is a public weblog, and I could be attracting evil burglars. But let's be honest, I've got an audience of two, counting myself. And of course there's the house alarm "qbullet.smiley".

So anyway, Mentor had a decent spike in their stock price this year, and I exercised a few options, resulting in my being able to buy a few geek toys. One was an iBook (Apple wireless laptop computer) which is allowing me to write this while reclining on the futon downstairs, watching television recorded with my ReplayTV.

So where am I going with this? Not sure, exactly "qbullet.smiley". I guess anybody who's bothered to read a few of my anime essays realizes that I've never grown up. The toys have just gotten more expensive. And while Jean has been studying, exploring life and placing less emphasis on material things, she still seems to love me. Kelly on the other hand is right behind me on the materialism thing "qbullet.smiley".

Quick anecdote. When Kelly was three I took her trick-or-treating. I thought I had taught her the proper rituals, knocking at the door, shouting "Trick or Treat!" But we arrived at a house, and as the owner came to the door, I said to Kelly "what do you say?" To which she gleefully replied "I want candy!"

I don't think the toys are pivotal to my being. As a true geek (only half-kidding here), I just have an appreciation for the cool gadget. I still think about life, what's important when all the toys are gone. I enjoy my afternoon walks with Jean more than anything, and we talk about everything under the sun (including geek toys). Then there are the Kelly-level moments in life, such as when she eats a homemade treat and says, "let me just say this", spreading her hands, palms flat, "Yum."

And not all the toys are soulless, either "qbullet.smiley". When I wrecked my ankle, I bought a bicycle. I ride it about as often as I estimated I would, which is to say about once a week, but it is so much fun I know the money was well spent. And in this case, I get outside, taste the fresh air, and get exercise as well. Sorry, but I'll have to spend some more money here soon, buying some thermal workout clothes, so I can keep riding on the rare dry winter days. I don't quite have the confidence to ride in the rain yet.

So I'll still feel free to talk about my soulless geek toys(tm). But try not to think I'm totally shallow and material when I do.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:54 PM

I Was Booooorrrrrrnnn To Weblog

Sung to the tune of Born To Wander. "qbullet.smiley"

Stop me if you're tired. I just amazed myself looking over what I've spewed out this morning, lunch and evening. But I'm gonna stop now so Kelly can go to sleep.

Instead I'll go downstairs and play with another of my "Soulless Geek Toys"(tm), the ReplayTV. See you tomorrow.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 PM

Quest For Fire

Jean and I are on a quest for The Perfect Science Magazine. Such a beast, if it exists, contains detailed articles with science which doesn't assume you are a dolt, but at the same time acknowledges that not everybody holds a Ph.D. in all the classical sciences. Jean has subscribed to Scientific American, and the first issue has arrived. So far I haven't read it, but Jean's judgement seems to be that it is a little too lowbrow.

In my bid to contribute, I today took the plunge and subscribed to the print edition of a science mag I've read online for a few months now. It is a British rag, called New Scientist. I'm afraid that Jean may find it a little too light as well, but the subject matter ranges far afield, and the best of their articles is very good indeed.

If we decide to up the ante, we are facing such august journals as Science (available only to members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for a yearly membership fee of between $112 and $250, depending on which (if any) membership we are allowed to undertake.

Then there's Nature, which has a one year subscription price for laymen of $159. I'm not hunting down the Internet links for these two until it is clear that we are going to blow that kind of moolah. Any suggestions from Internet Land?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:37 PM

Them Against Fire



I hadn't read Suck in quite awhile, but today's pointer to Greg Knauss' mini-essay put me in mind of them, so I cruised on over and gave today's essay a read. It was very interesting, and spot on as well. In the past Suck has been known for an irreverent National Lampoon sort of hyperbolic humor, but this had a heck of a lot of substance to it.

My only question at this point relates to a quote from the article:

Schwarzkopf took the question with an avuncular chuckle, and allowed as to how it probably depended, ho ho, on which side you're on.

In this context, I take it to refer to the sense "Regarded as being similar to an uncle, especially in benevolence." So my question is, since I'm an uncle, are my chuckles avuncular?


http://suck.com/daily/2000/10/30/1.html

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:23 PM

Reading to Kelly

Kelly's in one of her phases of working through books that are a bit beyond her age. In the past we've had success reading some of the Narnia books to her, such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair. But some of these books click with her, while others just leave her cold.

I've tried reading Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone to her, but while she was initially enthusiastic, she didn't last long enough to get to Hogwarts. "qbullet.smiley"

So we just worked our way through Ralph S. Mouse read by me, and Harriet the Spy read by Jean. More surprisingly to me is the new book that Kelly and I are reading: The Fables of Aesop. This is not any kiddie-fied version, it is the regular Penguin paperback. She just keeps me guessing.

P.S.: Kelly's first day back at school under the 'new regime' went well. Mrs. Wentzell said she was a "new person". We shall see if she is able to sustain that behavior, and indeed if Jean and I are able to sustain our 'iron wills.'

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 PM

I'm Not Done Yet

Actually, I am still tweaking the site. I realized that on those rare days when I post a lot of little short items, some would scroll off the home page. As a result, I increased the limit of News Items on the home page to 15.

I'd prefer to just have two whole days of news always appear on the home page, but while the documentation promises this is possible, following the directions doesn't lead to that result. Too bad.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 PM

Logorrhea

Oooh! I just realized. If I remember to post something tomorrow, anything, I'll have posted material two out of every three days this month!

Don't look for this virtual flood of words to sustain itself. I've uploaded all my completed reviews, and the structure of the site is to my liking now, so things will slow down. Especially as I get bored with everything eventually and move onto the next exciting thing.

The only thing that will sustain me is the knowledge that my sister Brenda, and possibly my pen pal Nami, may read this as a pale substitute for letter/email writing, at which I suck. "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:23 PM

Trying To Be Good

And this is why I have to be so danged strict with my lunches when I stay in the office:

From: [Cairo employee] To: don_wakefield Subject: Lunch on Wednseday Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 15:04:38 -0800

Hi Don,
We (Cairo team and partners from WV) will be having lunch on Wednesday
at Red Lobster in Washington Square at noon. Hope you can join us.

-- [Cairo employee]

Here's what I have to contend with. It's not like I don't want to go. This is one of those 'team-building' exercises I've mentioned already elsewhere. Oops, I guess I don't want to. "qbullet.smiley"

Actually, besides being a horrendous introvert, I don't have a problem going out with these folks. They seem nice, and as part of my job, I'd certainly like to build some ties with them before they return to Cairo. I'd rather do it in front of a computer screen, though. sigh

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:06 PM

Food Talk

While I eat my lunch, allow me to share the menu with you. Some background:

I'd been getting busy and real lazy about meal prep, and had taken to running to McDonalds for a burger when working late or doing late studying at the office. In addition, the company cafeteria makes really good soups (I love soup!) but rich.

So around the time of my cardiac adventure, I weighed myself, and I was up to 214 pounds. My normal active weight should be closer to 190. Oops. So I started prepping all my meals ahead of time to take to work. Some of this is modelled after Dr. Bob Arnot's Revolutionary Weight Control Program, a book I bought and had some success with a few years ago when I was training for running.

Since I'm lazy, I'm sticking to a fairly simple diet, with steady exercise (I never really gave up on the exercise, but it was harder when I tore my ankle up). So here is a typical workday diet:

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

work version
home version

As you can tell, when I'm home I allow myself a lot more. Also, on weekends, I'm a bit easier on myself. Still, it seems to be working. It's been around a month, and I'm down to 206 pounds. Pray for me! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:50 PM

Distant Echoes

After I'd had my consult with Dr. Rudolf,
and was assured that I had WPW, and that it really wasn't that
important, I determined that it would still be a good idea to talk to my
Dad about it, since some of the research on WPW suggests that it might
be hereditary.

All of this led to my essay, "Family Culture".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:54 AM

Family Culture

After I'd had my consult with Dr. Rudolf,
and was assured that I had WPW, and that it really wasn't that
important, I determined that it would still be a good idea to talk to my
Dad about it, since some of the research on WPW suggests that it might
be hereditary.

I called him up this weekend and we spoke about all the usual non-news
and semi-news. I mentioned that Jean had been offered a column at the
paper where she works, I told him about the blowout Kelly had had at
Kindergarten. We determined that each of us was in good health (right
now) and exchanged calendars. Dad should be driving to Florida with
Betty right about now, for instance.

Then I touched on the topic of WPW. Had he ever had an EKG? Several. Had
any ever turned up WPW? No, he had never even heard of it. Well, good. I
told him how the doctor had explained that the only way WPW would ever
likely affect my life was if I found myself in the emergency room for
anything at all. Said Dr. Rudolf:

Be sure that the first thing you do is grab the attending physician by the lapels and say "I'm WPW Type A!"

This is because emergency rooms have a standard approach to treating
elevated heart rates. They administer Verapamil,
which in the average patient is very successful in lowering the racing
heartrate. But in WPW patients, it causes problems.
Here's the medicalese:

Some patients with paroxysmal and/or chronic atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter [and WPW] have developed [...] a very rapid ventricular response or ventricular fibrillation after receiving intravenous verapamil [...]

All this means is that I shouldn't receive the standard treatment
for racing heart, as it could actually make things worse. I need to
carry around that EKG and try to communicate my condition if I find
myself in need of emergency medical treatment.

So back to my Dad. On hearing this, he related a similar issue that he
lives with. It seems that while serving in Korea (as a medic), he was
sent with several other servicemen onto a refrigeration ship, Korean in
origin. Shortly thereafter, he and all his fellows came down with an
illness that was for several days undiagnosed. Eventually it was
diagnosed as pneumonia, and they were all treated successfully.

However, to this day, he must inform doctors, whenever they take an
X-ray, for whatever reason, that there is a 'fibrous strand' in the
lower-right quadrant of his lungs, caused by scarring from the
pneumonia. It will show up as a shadow on his lung, and has been there
since his youth in the Navy. Can't have the doctors rushing him off to
oncologists every time he gets an X-ray.

Echoes

The reason this is interesting to me is that it sort of echoes my own
situation, and is a bit of history of my father that I had not heard
before. My relationship with my Dad is a bit distant, I think. When my
sister and I were growing up, he was a stern authoritarian, and did not
hesitate to 'use the belt' for martial punishment. Add to this the
fact that I am introverted and perhaps stereotypically Finnish (stoic,
withdrawn) and it all adds up to a less than embracing relationship with
him.

Now over the years this relationship has mellowed, but we still don't
talk about very deep topics all that often. My father's own life is one
of those shrouded areas. I know some of the popular anecdotes, but I
doubt that he'd open up and tell me of his childhood fears, or what was
good and bad about his relationship with his own father. Truth to
tell, I am inhibited from asking. I can't bring myself to probe that
far. I'm not sure if it's really that important to me, but it does
illustrate why this little anecdote is of interest.

Confession

I know that I am boxed in by my personality. I'm not the deeply
touchy-feely type of person, except in my own narrow tribe. Kelly can
hardly breathe sometimes for all my hugging and nuzzling. Jean can have
my hugs and kisses any time she wants. But California cuddly I am
not. In a team-building exercise at work once, the 'facilitator' tried
to get us to give each other back massages, at which point I sat down,
and nearly walked out. "That's it," I said. So I do have my
limits, a wall around myself.

I am okay with this, most of the time. But it does cause problems for me
at times. A few years ago, my mother died. While I'd known that she'd
been having problems with her health, I truly had no idea that her life
was threatened. I was surprised when my dad called to tell me she had
passed away.

My wife and I flew to Michigan to attend the funeral. My sister wanted
to know if I wanted to view my mother in the casket. I was not, nor am I
now interested in viewing the inanimate remains of somebody I once
knew. It doesn't give me peace, help me accept that they are 'really'
dead, or any of those other things people tell you when they have open
casket viewings. So of course I stayed at the opposite end of the
funeral parlor from the casket.

I was matter-of-fact, closed off, business-like during the entire
trip. If anybody ever told me the cause of death, I didn't hear
it. After the fact, my Finnish stoic facade prevents me from asking. I
just don't find it appropriate. So I have an idea what ended my mother's
life, but not the facts. I suppose for Kelly's medical records, I will
have to make the effort eventually.

The real point of this passage is that when I got home, I felt numb, I
helped unpack, then sat on the couch just staring into space. My wife
came in to ask me some day-in-the-life kind of question, and I just
started tearing up. I ended up crying for an hour, gut-wrenching sobs,
accusatory howls, snot and tears and all the unpretty symptoms of ugly
grief. After a while, the physical manifestations died down, and I don't
think I cried about the whole thing ever again. But I surprised
myself. I knew I missed my mother, and was sad she had died. But
I thought I was outside of the deeper responses. Or rather I didn't
think about it at all.

So now I think about mortality and turn my eyes to my Dad. I know we
don't have a truly close relationship, and I don't think we ever really
will. We are too much alike in that respect. But I don't want to make
the mistake of being the prototypical Finnish male, and completely miss
the signs, should they come. I don't want to come home from a funeral
not even knowing what took him, not even knowing if I feel, until the
storm takes me. I don't know what this means, but I'll be thinking about
it for a long time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:42 AM

In the Name of Halloween...



...I offer up this mini-essay by Greg Knauss, Suck's "first outside contributor". Anyway, I thought it was funny.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 AM

Reconciled

Jean and I had our discussion on Sunday. We took advantage of a period when Kelly was camping downstairs to have our little chat. It was difficult and painful--even after twenty years together I have to fight introvert tendencies when under stress. It is made all the harder that Jean and I don't get to talk, bond really, alone, without Kelly very much at all. So while there was a period in our lives when we seemed to be able to complete each others' sentences, that doesn't happen much anymore.

In any case, we worked through the miscommunications and got to the meat of the conflict. Now Jean is clear on how I intend to police Kelly's morning breakfast, and I'm clear how stressed Jean feels about Kelly's Kindergarten fiasco. I hope Jean has a clearer idea of the wrestling I have to do with Kelly too.

Kelly had her first 'enforced' breakfast today, and did try to deflect things by being by turns funny, cute, precocious and so on. Jean was home for it, so she saw the game. Jean is home today with what is probably a flu. We got enough food into Kelly's stomach to satisfy me, and I took her to school. Cross your fingers!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 AM

October 29, 2000

Another Saturday Night

We had another Kelly Crisis(tm). Jean had told Kelly around six times that Kelly needed to put away her toys or Jean was going to start throwing them out. The appointed hour arrived, and Jean picked up a container for a toy and put it in the trash. Kelly promptly retrieved it, with a defiant and grumpy look on her face.

Jean 'extracted' the container and returned it to the trash. Kelly began to cry and made accusations of meanness and unfairness. We assured her that we still loved her despite her being so mean. "qbullet.smiley"

Short story is that we sent Kelly to her room for an hour. She seems to have digested the message well enough to regurgitate the party line, but I doubt she believes what she did was wrong.

The big surprise for me was when Jean said she was angry not just at Kelly but at me too. It seems that regardless of the number of things I did that day, I didn't do enough. Apparently, I was supposed to nag Kelly to keep her toys under control. Sorry, I won't do it. I think it is enough to have the pick up time at the end of the day.

I didn't contradict her in front of Kelly, but I'll have a talk with her when we go for a walk on Monday (our weekday walks are the only time we can really talk without having Kelly insinuating herself into the conversation).

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:45 AM

October 28, 2000

Saturday Without Cartoons

I just spent the last half hour listening to music on my laptop with Kelly. It was a curious mix, including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russel, The Pillows (FLCL) and the OP from Excel Saga. So we get modern anime soundtracks mixed with fringe pop rock and seminal Blues Rock giants. That is one of the advantages of having a five-year old. She is non-critical and enjoys anything (in small doses).

The reason we were listening to music (courtesy of Napster, don't worry, I own or will soon buy all the albums named), is that Kelly is not allowed to watch cartoons this Saturday morning. She is not allowed to watch cartoons due to a rule we have now. Read all about it in my new musing, "Raising Kelly".

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 AM

Raising Kelly

I just spent the last half hour listening to music on my laptop with Kelly. It was a curious mix, including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russel, The Pillows (FLCL) and the OP from Excel Saga. So we get modern anime soundtracks mixed with fringe pop rock and seminal Blues Rock giants. That is one of the advantages of having a five-year old. She is non-critical and enjoys anything (in small doses).

The reason we were listening to music (courtesy of Napster, don't worry, I own or will soon buy all the albums named), is that Kelly is not allowed to watch cartoons this Saturday morning. She is not allowed to watch cartoons due to a rule we have now. The rule is this:

Needless to say, Kelly did not get a good-behavior grade yesterday morning at Bridgeport. In fact, she had the worst blow-up that she has had in living memory. We started the cartoon rules because she was having some behavior problems, and the rules seemed to help. But Friday she completely lost it. Here's what happened:

In the morning, the teacher, Mrs. Wentzell, asked all the children to put away their art projects and prepare for the next segment of the class. Four of the students were too involved in playing to listen to her, and failed to put away their art projects. Mrs. Wentzell quietly picked up the artwork of those four students (and yes, Kelly was one of them) and placed it all in the trash.

Three of the students were dumbfounded, with slack jaws, witnessing the consequences of their uncooperative attitudes. But one walked defiantly over to the trashcan and retrieved her work. That was my Kelly. She screamed at Mrs. Wentzell, and proceeded to cry and scream some more when Mrs. Wentzell tried to correct her. They made her sit in a corner of the room, but she didn't calm down. They made her move to the hallway, but she continued to scream. She was sent to the office, where she drove everyone crazy. A visiting policeman tried to talk to her to help her calm down, but she would not be consoled.

Jean arrived to pick Kelly up, and ended up having a conference for a half hour with the teacher. So now Jean is upset, and Kelly is sitting in the living room with no cartoons until noon.

I'll admit she has great resources when told she cannot watch cartoons. She has been listening to tunes on my laptop, eating her breakfast, playing tapes in her little tape player, playing with her dolls. In other words, doing just fine in the absence of television.

In the meantime, I mull over what has caused her behavior problems. It's a pain in the butt being a parent, especially when you don't particularly want to be one anyway. Jean was the one who wanted a kid, but I committed to it, so here we are.

I grew up in a house where spanking as a form of discipline was an accepted way of life. Well, not accepted by me. Since we have had Kelly, we have never spanked her, and I am not about to start now. I have subscribed to the notions put forth in the book Parenting With Love and Logic, the basic principle of which is to let kids make decisions as early as possible, when mistakes are usually not too damaging. And let the child 'own' the consequences of their actions.

What this means is that I've been letting her decide what she has for breakfast on school days. The hope here is that if she gets hungry at school before snack time, she'll realize that she needed to eat more at home before going to school. But the morning of her blowup she ate very little, and that probably contributed to her problems. So in the spirit of letting her 'own' the consequences, we told her that for the next few months she was losing the priviledge of choosing her breakfast in the morning and that she would have to eat what we chose for her.

Another factor that might have contributed to her blow-up was lack of sleep. My wife observed that our usual pattern with Kelly is to start moving her to bed at 8:30pm. First Jean visits her, reading her a story, then I do. But generally, Kelly and I relate by play and goofing around, so she ends up getting worked up just before bedtime. So there's another switch in our routine. Kelly now goes to bed at 8pm (one half hour earlier), and I visit her first. Hopefully, that will help her to get more sleep.

A final factor that may have contributed to her blow-up: this morning she is displaying all the outward signs of a cold. If she was coming down with the inward symptoms (tired, achy, stuffy) yesterday morning, then that would have a big influence on her behavior. So we nurse the cold this weekend as well.

None of these factors excuses her behavior, in my opinion. And my own responsibility is not to be waved away either. The two steps of controlled diet and extended sleep are my attempts to take responsibility for my side of Kelly's blow-up. What this all boils down to is that parenting is hard. It would be easy to spank her for misbehaving, it would be easy to make every decision for her and have a perfectly behaved little doll. But I want her to be able to make good decisions at a very early age. Sometimes, giving her control means I overstep and give her too much. Then we fine tune.

I hope that we don't have to restrict Kelly's rights even further, though we made the dire hint in her hearing that if she couldn't learn to control herself, we might have to visit the doctor. And who knows what a doctor might want to do? Maybe vitamin shots! Shiver. So Kelly is motivated to learn self-control, and I am motivated to help her. I just need to find that fine balance between freedom and control that will let her grow up to make good decisions for herself.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

Raising Kelly

I just spent the last half hour listening to music on my laptop with Kelly. It was a curious mix, including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russel, The Pillows (FLCL) and the OP from Excel Saga. So we get modern anime soundtracks mixed with fringe pop rock and seminal Blues Rock giants. That is one of the advantages of having a five-year old. She is non-critical and enjoys anything (in small doses).

The reason we were listening to music (courtesy of Napster, don't worry, I own or will soon buy all the albums named), is that Kelly is not allowed to watch cartoons this Saturday morning. She is not allowed to watch cartoons due to a rule we have now. The rule is this:

Needless to say, Kelly did not get a good-behavior grade yesterday morning at Bridgeport. In fact, she had the worst blow-up that she has had in living memory. We started the cartoon rules because she was having some behavior problems, and the rules seemed to help. But Friday she completely lost it. Here's what happened:

In the morning, the teacher, Mrs. Wentzell, asked all the children to put away their art projects and prepare for the next segment of the class. Four of the students were too involved in playing to listen to her, and failed to put away their art projects. Mrs. Wentzell quietly picked up the artwork of those four students (and yes, Kelly was one of them) and placed it all in the trash.

Three of the students were dumbfounded, with slack jaws, witnessing the consequences of their uncooperative attitudes. But one walked defiantly over to the trashcan and retrieved her work. That was my Kelly. She screamed at Mrs. Wentzell, and proceeded to cry and scream some more when Mrs. Wentzell tried to correct her. They made her sit in a corner of the room, but she didn't calm down. They made her move to the hallway, but she continued to scream. She was sent to the office, where she drove everyone crazy. A visiting policeman tried to talk to her to help her calm down, but she would not be consoled.

Jean arrived to pick Kelly up, and ended up having a conference for a half hour with the teacher. So now Jean is upset, and Kelly is sitting in the living room with no cartoons until noon.

I'll admit she has great resources when told she cannot watch cartoons. She has been listening to tunes on my laptop, eating her breakfast, playing tapes in her little tape player, playing with her dolls. In other words, doing just fine in the absence of television.

In the meantime, I mull over what has caused her behavior problems. It's a pain in the butt being a parent, especially when you don't particularly want to be one anyway. Jean was the one who wanted a kid, but I committed to it, so here we are.

I grew up in a house where spanking as a form of discipline was an accepted way of life. Well, not accepted by me. Since we have had Kelly, we have never spanked her, and I am not about to start now. I have subscribed to the notions put forth in the book Parenting With Love and Logic, the basic principle of which is to let kids make decisions as early as possible, when mistakes are usually not too damaging. And let the child 'own' the consequences of their actions.

What this means is that I've been letting her decide what she has for breakfast on school days. The hope here is that if she gets hungry at school before snack time, she'll realize that she needed to eat more at home before going to school. But the morning of her blowup she ate very little, and that probably contributed to her problems. So in the spirit of letting her 'own' the consequences, we told her that for the next few months she was losing the priviledge of choosing her breakfast in the morning and that she would have to eat what we chose for her.

Another factor that might have contributed to her blow-up was lack of sleep. My wife observed that our usual pattern with Kelly is to start moving her to bed at 8:30pm. First Jean visits her, reading her a story, then I do. But generally, Kelly and I relate by play and goofing around, so she ends up getting worked up just before bedtime. So there's another switch in our routine. Kelly now goes to bed at 8pm (one half hour earlier), and I visit her first. Hopefully, that will help her to get more sleep.

A final factor that may have contributed to her blow-up: this morning she is displaying all the outward signs of a cold. If she was coming down with the inward symptoms (tired, achy, stuffy) yesterday morning, then that would have a big influence on her behavior. So we nurse the cold this weekend as well.

None of these factors excuses her behavior, in my opinion. And my own responsibility is not to be waved away either. The two steps of controlled diet and extended sleep are my attempts to take responsibility for my side of Kelly's blow-up. What this all boils down to is that parenting is hard. It would be easy to spank her for misbehaving, it would be easy to make every decision for her and have a perfectly behaved little doll. But I want her to be able to make good decisions at a very early age. Sometimes, giving her control means I overstep and give her too much. Then we fine tune.

I hope that we don't have to restrict Kelly's rights even further, though we made the dire hint in her hearing that if she couldn't learn to control herself, we might have to visit the doctor. And who knows what a doctor might want to do? Maybe vitamin shots! Shiver. So Kelly is motivated to learn self-control, and I am motivated to help her. I just need to find that fine balance between freedom and control that will let her grow up to make good decisions for herself.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

Raising Kelly

I just spent the last half hour listening to music on my laptop with Kelly. It was a curious mix, including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russel, The Pillows (FLCL) and the OP from Excel Saga. So we get modern anime soundtracks mixed with fringe pop rock and seminal Blues Rock giants. That is one of the advantages of having a five-year old. She is non-critical and enjoys anything (in small doses).

The reason we were listening to music (courtesy of Napster, don't worry, I own or will soon buy all the albums named), is that Kelly is not allowed to watch cartoons this Saturday morning. She is not allowed to watch cartoons due to a rule we have now. The rule is this:

Needless to say, Kelly did not get a good-behavior grade yesterday morning at Bridgeport. In fact, she had the worst blow-up that she has had in living memory. We started the cartoon rules because she was having some behavior problems, and the rules seemed to help. But Friday she completely lost it. Here's what happened:

In the morning, the teacher, Mrs. Wentzell, asked all the children to put away their art projects and prepare for the next segment of the class. Four of the students were too involved in playing to listen to her, and failed to put away their art projects. Mrs. Wentzell quietly picked up the artwork of those four students (and yes, Kelly was one of them) and placed it all in the trash.

Three of the students were dumbfounded, with slack jaws, witnessing the consequences of their uncooperative attitudes. But one walked defiantly over to the trashcan and retrieved her work. That was my Kelly. She screamed at Mrs. Wentzell, and proceeded to cry and scream some more when Mrs. Wentzell tried to correct her. They made her sit in a corner of the room, but she didn't calm down. They made her move to the hallway, but she continued to scream. She was sent to the office, where she drove everyone crazy. A visiting policeman tried to talk to her to help her calm down, but she would not be consoled.

Jean arrived to pick Kelly up, and ended up having a conference for a half hour with the teacher. So now Jean is upset, and Kelly is sitting in the living room with no cartoons until noon.

I'll admit she has great resources when told she cannot watch cartoons. She has been listening to tunes on my laptop, eating her breakfast, playing tapes in her little tape player, playing with her dolls. In other words, doing just fine in the absence of television.

In the meantime, I mull over what has caused her behavior problems. It's a pain in the butt being a parent, especially when you don't particularly want to be one anyway. Jean was the one who wanted a kid, but I committed to it, so here we are.

I grew up in a house where spanking as a form of discipline was an accepted way of life. Well, not accepted by me. Since we have had Kelly, we have never spanked her, and I am not about to start now. I have subscribed to the notions put forth in the book Parenting With Love and Logic, the basic principle of which is to let kids make decisions as early as possible, when mistakes are usually not too damaging. And let the child 'own' the consequences of their actions.

What this means is that I've been letting her decide what she has for breakfast on school days. The hope here is that if she gets hungry at school before snack time, she'll realize that she needed to eat more at home before going to school. But the morning of her blowup she ate very little, and that probably contributed to her problems. So in the spirit of letting her 'own' the consequences, we told her that for the next few months she was losing the priviledge of choosing her breakfast in the morning and that she would have to eat what we chose for her.

Another factor that might have contributed to her blow-up was lack of sleep. My wife observed that our usual pattern with Kelly is to start moving her to bed at 8:30pm. First Jean visits her, reading her a story, then I do. But generally, Kelly and I relate by play and goofing around, so she ends up getting worked up just before bedtime. So there's another switch in our routine. Kelly now goes to bed at 8pm (one half hour earlier), and I visit her first. Hopefully, that will help her to get more sleep.

A final factor that may have contributed to her blow-up: this morning she is displaying all the outward signs of a cold. If she was coming down with the inward symptoms (tired, achy, stuffy) yesterday morning, then that would have a big influence on her behavior. So we nurse the cold this weekend as well.

None of these factors excuses her behavior, in my opinion. And my own responsibility is not to be waved away either. The two steps of controlled diet and extended sleep are my attempts to take responsibility for my side of Kelly's blow-up. What this all boils down to is that parenting is hard. It would be easy to spank her for misbehaving, it would be easy to make every decision for her and have a perfectly behaved little doll. But I want her to be able to make good decisions at a very early age. Sometimes, giving her control means I overstep and give her too much. Then we fine tune.

I hope that we don't have to restrict Kelly's rights even further, though we made the dire hint in her hearing that if she couldn't learn to control herself, we might have to visit the doctor. And who knows what a doctor might want to do? Maybe vitamin shots! Shiver. So Kelly is motivated to learn self-control, and I am motivated to help her. I just need to find that fine balance between freedom and control that will let her grow up to make good decisions for herself.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

Raising Kelly

I just spent the last half hour listening to music on my laptop with Kelly. It was a curious mix, including Suzanne Vega, Leon Russel, The Pillows (FLCL) and the OP from Excel Saga. So we get modern anime soundtracks mixed with fringe pop rock and seminal Blues Rock giants. That is one of the advantages of having a five-year old. She is non-critical and enjoys anything (in small doses).

The reason we were listening to music (courtesy of Napster, don't worry, I own or will soon buy all the albums named), is that Kelly is not allowed to watch cartoons this Saturday morning. She is not allowed to watch cartoons due to a rule we have now. The rule is this:

Needless to say, Kelly did not get a good-behavior grade yesterday morning at Bridgeport. In fact, she had the worst blow-up that she has had in living memory. We started the cartoon rules because she was having some behavior problems, and the rules seemed to help. But Friday she completely lost it. Here's what happened:

In the morning, the teacher, Mrs. Wentzell, asked all the children to put away their art projects and prepare for the next segment of the class. Four of the students were too involved in playing to listen to her, and failed to put away their art projects. Mrs. Wentzell quietly picked up the artwork of those four students (and yes, Kelly was one of them) and placed it all in the trash.

Three of the students were dumbfounded, with slack jaws, witnessing the consequences of their uncooperative attitudes. But one walked defiantly over to the trashcan and retrieved her work. That was my Kelly. She screamed at Mrs. Wentzell, and proceeded to cry and scream some more when Mrs. Wentzell tried to correct her. They made her sit in a corner of the room, but she didn't calm down. They made her move to the hallway, but she continued to scream. She was sent to the office, where she drove everyone crazy. A visiting policeman tried to talk to her to help her calm down, but she would not be consoled.

Jean arrived to pick Kelly up, and ended up having a conference for a half hour with the teacher. So now Jean is upset, and Kelly is sitting in the living room with no cartoons until noon.

I'll admit she has great resources when told she cannot watch cartoons. She has been listening to tunes on my laptop, eating her breakfast, playing tapes in her little tape player, playing with her dolls. In other words, doing just fine in the absence of television.

In the meantime, I mull over what has caused her behavior problems. It's a pain in the butt being a parent, especially when you don't particularly want to be one anyway. Jean was the one who wanted a kid, but I committed to it, so here we are.

I grew up in a house where spanking as a form of discipline was an accepted way of life. Well, not accepted by me. Since we have had Kelly, we have never spanked her, and I am not about to start now. I have subscribed to the notions put forth in the book Parenting With Love and Logic, the basic principle of which is to let kids make decisions as early as possible, when mistakes are usually not too damaging. And let the child 'own' the consequences of their actions.

What this means is that I've been letting her decide what she has for breakfast on school days. The hope here is that if she gets hungry at school before snack time, she'll realize that she needed to eat more at home before going to school. But the morning of her blowup she ate very little, and that probably contributed to her problems. So in the spirit of letting her 'own' the consequences, we told her that for the next few months she was losing the priviledge of choosing her breakfast in the morning and that she would have to eat what we chose for her.

Another factor that might have contributed to her blow-up was lack of sleep. My wife observed that our usual pattern with Kelly is to start moving her to bed at 8:30pm. First Jean visits her, reading her a story, then I do. But generally, Kelly and I relate by play and goofing around, so she ends up getting worked up just before bedtime. So there's another switch in our routine. Kelly now goes to bed at 8pm (one half hour earlier), and I visit her first. Hopefully, that will help her to get more sleep.

A final factor that may have contributed to her blow-up: this morning she is displaying all the outward signs of a cold. If she was coming down with the inward symptoms (tired, achy, stuffy) yesterday morning, then that would have a big influence on her behavior. So we nurse the cold this weekend as well.

None of these factors excuses her behavior, in my opinion. And my own responsibility is not to be waved away either. The two steps of controlled diet and extended sleep are my attempts to take responsibility for my side of Kelly's blow-up. What this all boils down to is that parenting is hard. It would be easy to spank her for misbehaving, it would be easy to make every decision for her and have a perfectly behaved little doll. But I want her to be able to make good decisions at a very early age. Sometimes, giving her control means I overstep and give her too much. Then we fine tune.

I hope that we don't have to restrict Kelly's rights even further, though we made the dire hint in her hearing that if she couldn't learn to control herself, we might have to visit the doctor. And who knows what a doctor might want to do? Maybe vitamin shots! Shiver. So Kelly is motivated to learn self-control, and I am motivated to help her. I just need to find that fine balance between freedom and control that will let her grow up to make good decisions for herself.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:27 AM

Zoo Pictures

I promised that I'd put up some of my pictures from last Sunday's trip to the Oregon Zoo as soon as I could get online from home. Now is the time.

Rather than try to overwhelm weblogs.com, I've put sixteen pictures up at Photopoint. That way, anyone who wants can look at the thumbnails there, and if they like a picture, clicking on the thumbnail will load the larger image.

All images have been scaled down to fit in a 640X480 frame. Pictures were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 950. Some after-photo editing was performed in Photoshop 4.01 on a PowerMacintosh 8500/120.

And believe it or not, all photos were uploaded using a 33.3Kb modem! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:43 AM

October 27, 2000

Taming of the Shrew

And while we're at it, please kill the story direction in Angel which has turned police detective Kate Lockley into a whiny, willfully ignorant shrew. I just don't buy it, and it took a strong woman character and turned her into a strong annoying asshole. Just stop it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:15 AM

Buffy 08/24/00



Don't know if I should make this a regular 'feature' or what, but sometimes this show tickles my funnybone.

Buffy finds a glowing sphere, about the size of a baseball, and shows it to the gang:

  Giles: It appears to be paranormal in origin...

  Willow: Why do you say that?

  Giles: Well, it's all shiny...

Buffy confronts Spike outside her house:

  Buffy: Why are you outside my house? In five words!

  Spike [ticking off his fingers]: Out .. for .. a .. walk ...

  [and then after a teeny pause, thumb]: Bitch.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 AM

October 26, 2000

Heart's Ease

I had my consult with Dr. Rudolf today. It was a great big pain finding his office, but I got there in time (early in fact). The upshot:

So I'm golden for another few years. In another week or so I'll be having my physical, which got bumped when Dr. Selby was too overloaded, but I don't think we'll be seeing any other dramatic developments.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:58 PM

October 25, 2000

New Reviews Posted

I've posted two new reviews:

These are the last two of my recent reviews which I tried to recover. Any reviews I post hereafter will be new. I look forward to writing a review of FuriKuri next.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:01 PM

Peter the Great

"Alexander"

There are rare moments in a person's lifetime when he or she discovers a
hidden talent, one which represents the path not taken. Say one has
dedicated one's career to software development. In the evolution of his
self, the software wonk might try his hand at writing. And then that
rare magic moment would manifest itself, revealing that he is actually a
gifted writer, skilled in conveying the kernel of a topic with
effortless ease. This is not one of those rare moments.

I won't even go into all my faults as a writer. I leave that to the
reader who bothers to plow through my turgid prose. But I've come to
recognize one very clear shortcoming. I can't for the life of me
clearly describe why I like a particular anime. If you've suffered along
with me through any of my previous reviews, you've seen me puzzle over
such gems as Tenshi ni Narumon, knowing I liked it but at a loss
as to why. Well get used to it. Confused I came into this world, and
confused I shall ever be.

Now that I've done with that unburdening, let's take a look at
this month's puzzle. The name of the show is Alexander, and it is based
on the life of Alexander the Great, in much the same way that
U-571 is based on the capture of the Enigma cypher machine in
WWII, and the manner in which Gladiator is based on the reign of
Commodus over the Roman Empire. This is to say, very, very
loosely.

Real history tells us that the British captured the Enigma machine,
before America even entered the war. The best historical accounts of
Emperor Commodus' life suggest that he either died of an illness, or
poisoning at the hands of his advisors. And oh, yes, he never had a
general named Maximus. I won't go into any such myth-puncturing when
looking at Alexander, but just keep it in mind as we proceed. Oh,
alright, there were no -- to the best of our knowledge -- flying
sorceror-assassins of the cult of Pythagoras in ancient Greece. But it
wouldn't be an anime if they were missing.

I don't even need to give a synopsis of the story background, since that
at least is relatively accurate, and recorded for anyone willing to do a
little reading. So instead I'd like to spend what remains of this column
considering the style of the show, which I'm told will last 13 'acts'.

Alexander is the product of numerous fertile minds. It is based
on an original novel by Hiroshi Aramata. According to the official site
for Alexander, he "combined his life-long interest in the subject
with over 5 years of painstaking research to present his own unique
interpretation." And he certainly didn't let that painstaking research
sully his unique interpretation.

While I'm sure that the director contributed to the vision, I don't know
how much influence over the look and atmosphere of the show he had. For
the record, note that he was Yoshinori Kanemori, and that he has also
directed Galaxy Express 999, Final Fantasy and others. Feh
on the producers. Who knows what they are thinking, on any given day?

Of course the jewel in this creative crown, the pearl of this video
oyster, the prize in this Crackerjack (tm) drama, is none other than
Peter Chung. If you haven't heard of him, shame on you. He is my
personal hero of the animation world, responsible for inflicting on the
world that marvel of originality and tribute fused together, Aeon
Flux
. If only for this one work I will worship at this altar for
many years to come.

Far more of his work has been in the realm of character design than in
actual writing and story development. In 1994, starved for more Peter
Chung, I sank so low as to watch Phantom 2040 religiously on
Saturday mornings, despite the fact that his only involvement was to
contribute the character designs (actually the writing for the show was
not too bad and a cut above many of the made-for-USA kids' shows of the
time). Fortunately the very next year marked the launch of the Aeon
Flux
television series, an encore brought about by the unquestioned
popularity of the original sequences found on MTV's Liquid
Television
.

Imagine my surprise to hear that the creator of so many angular,
anatomically questionable heros was going to turn his talents to
Alexander the Great. I was certainly excited to hear it, even if he once
again was constrained to merely designing the characters, rather than
contributing to the story.

Now years later (his character designs were completed in 1996), the
grand design has come together. The multifarious minds behind
Alexander have delivered up their child. Alexander is a
sprawling epic told in several episodes of a more personal scope, as
Alexander wins the respect of his people, and then falls prey to
overweening pride. Amongst the characters we have Alexander
himself, Roxanne, the daughter of a powerful Persian clan leader and
eventually his wife, Alexander's friend Hephaestion and a cast of
thousands.

I viewed the first two episodes in the original Japanese, without
subtitles, so perhaps I can be forgiven my bemusement when Alexander is
attacked by the utterly spooky Pythagorean assassins, who are convinced
that he will be the agency of the end of the world. Olympias,
Alexander's mother, is also a trip. We are treated to a flashback of her
giving birth to Alexander while entwined with giant serpents. She's
apparently all for her son becoming the world-destroyer.

None of this is made any easier by the set and costume design which has
about as much to do with ancient Greece and Persia as General Relativity
has to do with Dr. Who. Colors are bright, buildings are postmodern,
everything is very jumbled. But lest we rush to blame Peter Chung,
consider this quote from an interview with him: "First, I started by
doing research, before the director, Mr. Kanemori, told me to quit the
research and only use my imagination... if [the director and writer]
didn't like something, they said so, and I'd change it."

And change it they did. Alexander's tutor and mentor, Aristotle (yes,
that Aristotle) ends up looking like a fugitive from a Cockatoo
farm. In a major battle fought in the second episode, where Alexander
disobeys direct orders to brilliantly win the day, I found myself
reminded of a Civil War Battle re-enactment as presented by Cirque du
Soleil
. Colorful, yes, but also distracting, if you know more than a
little about the period.

The parlor pieces also have that jarring quality, like watching Imago or
Burmese shadow puppets presenting Hedda Gabbler. While I could go
on with the jarring images and obscure references to other culturally
puzzling phenomena, I hope you get the gist. It's fun to poke fun, but
enough is enough.

I've deliberately stayed away from the details of the story in this
column, not because it is hard to tell what is going on (the official
website
has some excellent information, synopses and character
descriptions) but because I think the substance of the show
should be experienced by each of you. It is certainly worth the
investment of an hour or two to watch the first two episodes. Personally
I intend to watch more, since I am interested in the evolution of
the relationships among the characters, invented and historical, who
have been introduced thus far.

But I felt it was only fair to prepare the path, as it were, on this
journey, by letting you know what was discordant about the show. If you
approach it as a purely fantastic creation in the typical anime vein (I
found myself thinking of Yotoden more than once while watching),
or if you are woefully ignorant of history (and there is no reason why
you shouldn't be, where ancient Greece and Persia are concerned), then
Alexander will seem a peculiar and rich brew.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:54 PM | Comments (3)

The Wild, Wild East

Two summers ago, at Anime Expo 1998, I was privileged to witness a new
anime show which was to become quite hot in Japan: Trigun.
Trigun does something fresh with a respected genre, paying
tribute to Sergio
Leone
and the spaghetti westerns which have since become
classics.

I admit I'm not too plugged in to the licensing announcements of
American anime companies, or the American arms of Japanese ones, but
I've heard that Trigun is supposedly coming to the
U.S. soon. So now might be a good time to revisit my viewing of this
intriguing series.

Trigun is a 26-part anime series, somewhat episodic, but
constructing an overall story arc. The setting is Old West in flavor,
though the Old West of The
Good, The Bad and The Ugly
, or Wild, Wild West.
Technological anachronisms abound, as do trick guns and bizarre
characters. After a brief period it becomes clear that this society is
the remnant of an interstellar colonization effort. What went wrong in
the colonization is the main thread of the story arc.


Trigun the anime is based on Trigun the manga, authored
by Yasuhiro Nightow in 1995. A new manga, Trigun Maximum, is
still running in the magazine Young King Ours
today.

The cast of characters includes the Good Guys, such as Vash the
Stampede (early in the series identified as being responsible for much
mayhem, with a bounty of $$60,000,000,000 [the '$$' is not a typo]),
and the Bad Guys, who are so bad, they even get a Team Name: the Gung
Ho Guns. I've said that Vash is a Good Guy, potentially giving away a
story point, but it's pretty clear to the viewer, if not to the other
characters, that he is good, noble and crazy, in the best Lupin/City
Hunter tradition. It is true that mayhem happens around Vash, but
Vash is usually trying to stop it.

I could go into the details of the driving story arc, but that *would*
be giving too much away. Suffice it to say that Vash has enemies,
powerful enemies, who want to destroy him. The chief Bad Guy directs
his lieutenant, Legato Bluesummers, to harry and humiliate Vash, and
Legato generally does just that, commanding the Gung Ho Guns, a
rogue's gallery of characters the likes of which always populated the
old Wild, Wild West television shows. Just a sampling of these
rogues:

The tone of the series ranges from whimsical, hilarious and goofy to
downright depressing. Characters enter our awareness, show their
humanity, and all too often die. Vash is the Fool, traveling from town
to town on a journey of discovery. Sometimes he is able to help
people, other times he has to watch them slip through his fingers.

Joining him on his journey are two insurance agents, sent to find the
source of all the claims their company has been flooded with recently.
One is Merril Stryfe, diminutive but tough, and the other is Milly
Thompson, tall, cheerful, and not the brains of the team. But she
does carry a big gun. Most of the main characters
carry a gun of one sort or another, usually a trick gun (i.e. a gun
concealed in an unexpected way, or a gun with flashy performance
features).

Does all this hang together? Remarkably well. Even viewed in raw
Japanese, which I don't speak, I found the stories engaging and fun. I
was a bit taken aback by the dark turn of later episodes, but they do
eventually resolve into a--sort of--happy ending. I once was told that
the Japanese have a word which describes moments which are both happy
and sad. Here Nightow and the anime creators bring that word alive. If
you can handle an anime where not all the Good Guys live, and the
happy ending doesn't include a wedding and a castle, Trigun is
definitely worth your time.

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:37 PM

Incommunicado



The ISP I use at home has been down with a hard disk crash for the last couple of days, so I haven't been able to post from home. Thought I'd take a quick moment to post from work. I'm still alive, all is well.

Saturday was the "NOVA" Halloween party, and I showed The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and "Bio-Zombie"! They were both well-received by the cheesy entertainment crowd.

Sunday we went to the Oregon Zoo. Jean was there because she's taking a class in Anthropology from PCC. Kelly and I went along, and wandered around the zoo while Jean was 'in class'. Stellar Cove was cool, and I'll post a couple of pictures when I can log in from home again.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:14 AM

October 21, 2000

Searching Works

Cool, searching works! There's the search box to the left, right below "Feedback" and right above the sign-in/sign-out box. According to the Manila help, Stories and Front Page items get indexed, as well as special site-hierarchy sections, but not discussions. Don't know if it will index news items, since they are considered 'discussions', so I've also created an invisible site-hierarchy area called 'indnews' for "Indexable News Items" where I'll add the news items I want to track (because they have links or info I want to save, like the "Larry Speaks" article, or "The Mutter Museum").

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:48 AM

October 20, 2000

FLCL S LTS F FN

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends! About a month late, but not a dollar short, I promise you. This here review has taken so long to write because FLCL (pronounced "Furi Kuri" after the four kana which go into it's name) is hard to quantify without introducing masses of plot spoilers. Nevertheless I shall endeavor to do so.

First, Furi Kuri is a six-part OVA series brought to you by Gainax. I believe there is also a movie. If that's not enough for you, there are three volumes of manga serializations, and a CD. Since almost all of the staff previously worked on Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou or Neon Genesis Evangelion, there is a strong artistic influence from each of these series.

Furi Kuri takes place, as do so many anime, in a world very like our own, but not quite so. As is often the case, the laws of physics are violated with cartoon impunity, and characters display a certain...robustness...which any of us could only dream of. Folks are flung through space in beauteous arcs, limbs flailing majestically, to perform graceful one-point landings on their faces, heels rapping smartly on their skulls. Do these poor creatures feel pain? Surely, but they pick themselves up and--well, they don't march back into danger, they run away like any sane person, but the point is that they can run.

Another staple of Japanese OVAs is the domination of the cast by high school (or younger) characters. FLCL is squarely in this camp. The "hero" of our story is hard to pick out in the three episodes I've been privileged to watch, but there are a few candidates to choose from:

Haruko's picture graces the top of this review. Maybe not her most flattering picture, but it does capture some of her tendency to vogue disgracefully. Along with this cast of characters we are introduced to the 'adults' in the series, such as Naota's father Kamon, and his grandfather Shigekuni. Amongst the non-human cast we have Miyu-Miyu, a rather disturbing cat, and Kanchi, a robot, pictured here behind Mamimi and Naota. It is one of those difficulties of plot spoiling which prevent me from explaining how Kanchi first arrives on the scene, though I will go so far as to note that he was given his name by Mamimi, after a destroying angel character in a video game she played.

So what's it about? It's partly about the 'ordinary' life of two kids in the city of Mabase, growing up in the shadow of the mysterious Medical Mechanica plant. That the plant looks like a giant steam iron, and in fact billows forth gouts of steam or smoke at irregular intervals is certainly a source of curiousity for these kids, but it doesn't obscure their more ordinary concerns of alienation and confusion.

All that changes in an instant when Haruko literally races onto the scene, gunning her Vespa toward an unsuspecting Mamimi and Naota. This meeting is a lot like the first meeting between Ataru and Lum, or Tenchi and Ryoko. In other words, it is disastrous, and totally turns Naota's life upside-down. All right, I think I'm entitled to at least one spoiler: Haruko smacks Naota in the head with her guitar! Why does she do it? Well, that's part and parcel of the story, but it is a truly precious scene, as Haruko shifts about the unconscious Naota on her knees, not actually moving her limbs but scooting from spot to spot in some spooky yet hilarious telekinetic dance.

After this painful first encounter, Naota is shocked to find that Haruko has moved into his house, invited there by his father as a live-in maid. It seems that Haruko is not yet done with Naota. Indeed, she is in his face, on his case and pawing other places in a most unseemly manner. Haruko is, in short, every otaku's dream. But Naota is not an otaku.

Furi Kuri is by turns moody and hyperkinetic. Mamimi broods, vamps and may be an arsonist. Haruko has a mission, plainly, and is given to outlandish claims, such as being an alien. Naota probably just wants them all to go away. Kanchi has some of the best scenes in the first three episodes, between battles, heroic posture and angelic tableaux. So I return to the question. What's it about?

In part it is about the mystery of the Medical Mechanica building, and certain phenomena associated with it (at least by some of the characters), such as the appearance of Kanchi. It is also about the growth of the relationships of the characters: Naota and Mamimi, Naota and Haruko, Kanchi and Mamimi. Oh, it's all very complicated. Anybody who tells you they understand this series has either had an advanced preview of the entire thing, read the whole run of manga, or is lying.

On a scale of one to five Shamanic Princesses, I'd have to give this one a three for inscrutability. In the realm of Kare Kano, it is a peer, both for character development and interaction, and for humor and style. The music, by The Pillows is somewhat repetitive on the CD, but is eminently satisfying in the context of the series. I especially like "Little Busters", which makes it's debut during Kanchi's second fight scene.

So without giving away more plot details, that sums it up. Is it worth watching? Yes, if you thought Kare Kano was worth watching, or Mahou Tsukai Tai, or Shamanic Princess. Not because it is like any of those series, though occasionally it holds some kindred relationship. Rather because it tries to do something a little different, and have fun with it. And like Haruko on her Vespa, Furi Kuri tears up the landscape.


Credits:

Director: Tsurumaki Kazuya

Character Designer: Sadamoto Yoshiyuki

Script: Enomoto Yooji

Manga: Ueda Hajime

Music: The Pillows

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:21 PM | Comments (2)

Searchable Site?

I've followed the instructions for making this site searchable, and updated the reviews so they'll get indexed. I think I need to wait another 24 hours for indexing to show up. If it works, I'll add a search box to the lefthand column. Keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:53 AM

October 18, 2000

The Mutter Museum



If you find yourself in Philadelphia with time on your hands, and you don't run to squeamishness, then allot some time (half a day is reasonable) to visit the Mutter Museum. When Jean, Kelly and I were there for the Moyer family reunion, I was fortunate enough to have found out about this place before we left, and Jean and I insisted on setting the time aside for a visit.

To me, and to Jean as well, I believe, it was the high point of the trip. Well worth the $8 general admission for each of us. I think we stayed a couple of hours, so it at least repaid the price of a movie.

The Museum's collections include over 20,000 objects, including approximately 900 fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens; 10,000+ medical instruments and apparati, primarily dating between 1750 and the present; ca. 400 anatomical and pathological models in plaster, wax, papier mache, and plastic; ca. 200 items of memorabilia of famous scientists and physicians; and ca. 1500 medical illustrations in the form of lantern slides, 35 mm. slides, photographs, drawings, and prints. The Museum continues to receive medical instruments and specimens donated by Fellows, other physicians, and individuals.

Now if only I'd heard about Eastern State Penitentiary as well, the trip would have been a real pleasure. Via metascene, here is an essay by magician Teller on his visit to Eastern State Pen.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:36 PM

Larry Speaks



A quote from Larry Wall, the creator of Perl, delivering a speech at the Atlanta Linux Showcase and Conference, on Perl 6:

As I was flying here on Delta Airlines, the monitor was showing all sorts of happy sayings.

"If you can dream it, you can do it."

    -- Walt Disney

Now this is actually false (massive laughter). I think Walt was confused between necessary and sufficient conditions. If you don't dream it, you can't do it, that is certainly accurate.

    transcribed by Nathan Torkington

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:41 AM

Words, Words, Words

Just an early morning tidbit. Here are three of my favorite words for testing out a dictionary's mettle:

nugatory

Of little or no importance; trifling.

omphaloskepsis

contemplation of one's navel

phreatic

Of or relating to ground water.

So if you're looking to buy a dictionary, don't do it unless it has these three words (and your own personal favorites). You may very well never need to know or use these words, but it is, as my old calculus instructor used to say, "a measure of sophistication".

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:59 AM

October 17, 2000

Latest Additions

I've added two new categories for my writings:

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:20 AM

Musings

Occasionally I'll write an essay on a topic that interests me. If it isn't a review I'll collect it under this article. Additionally, I'll occasionally write some bit of fluff which isn't really an essay but is too long for the front page of my weblog. Maybe I'll want it to have a longer life than the front page rollover too. That means it also goes here. So I'm gonna dub this section 'Musings'!

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:56 AM

October 16, 2000

Miscellaneous Reviews

This is a placeholder for reviews of any sort which don't fit into the Anime or Hong Kong Movie categories. Nothing here yet.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:26 PM

Dr. Rudolf

I spoke with Dr. John Rudolf today, and a nicer man you never spoke with. He's got a great 'phoneside' manner, and like Dr. Selby, lets you have all the information you could want.

The short story: I've definitely got a WPW heart. No apparent risk due to my behavioral experiences (no fainting, dizzy spells or the like), but I'm supposed to carry a baseline EKG with me so that should I ever find myself in an emergency room for whatever reason, the physicians know not to give me certain kinds of meds.

The longer story: He consulted with Dr. Selby's PA (physician assistant) and they decided I should see Dr. Rudolf for a direct examination to make sure there are no other issues. Chances are low, since my bloodwork, B.P. and other indicators of the EKG are all great, but as he says, "In my line of work, I seldom get to revisit issues. If a dermatologist sees a pimple today, next week, no problem, but..."

So I get to add one more consultative visit to my localized string of doctor and dentist visits. After this, I think things will settle down again for a while. I certainly hope so. This gets tedious after a while.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:23 PM

October 15, 2000

Hi Jean!

Now this weblog becomes really interesting. Up to this point I've labored in obscurity fully expecting to be the only person reading it. But in a fit of self-immolation, I've let both my pen-pal from >Japan and my wife!!!???!!! in on the secret. Actually, since I'm not planning on sharing any deep dark secrets here, it's pretty safe. Sorry Jean ;^)~

Nami, I hope you're reading at least some of this weblog too, as it is sort of like a running first draft for the letters and email I'll be sending you in the future. Of course, this server's bandwidth to Japan may be totally inadequate, in which case I'll understand if you don't have the patience to wait for the pages to load.

The rest of you (all two of you): enjoy what you like, and for god's sake, post a comment in the discussion group to let me know you're out there! Just kidding. I know it's jes' me and the crickets. ;^)~

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 PM

My Picture

If you're curious, I've added a picture taken this evening (a mirror shot) to the Feedback page. Just click on the "Feedback" link to see me ;^)~

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:37 PM

New Review Category

I've created a new review category, "Hong Kong Movie Reviews". The first movie reviewed, appropriate for Halloween, is "Bio-Zombie".

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:37 AM

Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Here are the reviews of Hong Kong movies I've written so far:

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:32 AM

Bio-Zombie

(runs 94 min.)

Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan Siu-Chun) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee Chan
Sam) run a pirate video shop in a Hong Kong mall. Their daily lives are
spent swaggering down the mall, talking big, betting on horse races and
trying to get dates with the various women who work there. Indeed,
except for two brief forays into the outer world at the beginning of the
movie (and one final visit at the end), the central cast of this movie
are the owners and workers at the various shops in the mall. Although we
see customers, they are early on ciphers, and later, zombies.

Running a beauty shop are two cute young women, Jelly and Rolls (yes,
they are actually called that in the movie, at least in the subtitles).
They are of course the constant victims of Woody and Bee's attentions.
Rolls is also the target of the unrequited love of a nerdy sushi chef at
the corner food court, Sushi Boy. On another floor, a cellphone store
('used' cellphones at bargain prices), we meet Brother Keung and his
wife. Brother Keung is an even bigger talker than Woody and Bee, if that
is possible.

The early part of the movie is spent introducing each of these
characters and giving us time to recognize their fundamental roles. A
handful of characters are basically good, but most are flawed or even
bad. This gives plenty of targets when the flesh starts to fly.

After this chatty beginning the various fates begin to intersect when
Woody and Bee are instructed by their faceless boss to bring his car.
While they are going to the shop to pick it up, we are introduced to the
source of the movie's action.

And now for a brief digression. When I was a child, decades ago, Marvel
Comics was at the height of its popularity. Stan Lee was one of the
founding fathers, as it were, and he was giving interviews everywhere,
magazines, television. Anyway, I saw an interview with him on a talk
show, and he was a very funny guy. His main thesis was that other
comic companies had very implausible superheroes, who flew threw the air
because of magical powers.

"But ours", he said with a wide grin, "they fly for very good reason".
The Incredible Hulk simply leapt very high like a giant grasshopper.
Thor would throw his hammer and since it was on a thong around his
wrist, his body would follow. Spiderman gained his powers quite
logically, when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. And so on. Stan
Lee clearly having fun, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I mention this little anecdote because Bio-Zombie has a similar
attitude. While George Romero's original zombies, from Night of the
Living Dead
, are the result of mysterious radiation from a passing
comet, Bio-Zombie's zombies are caused by biological warfare agents,
created by the Iranians. A rogue canister of this chemical agent
disguised as a soft drink bottle is the source of all the chaos in the
movie.

So Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee cross paths with the 'real' world when
they--well that would be telling. Suffice it to say, for some reason
they bring an infected person back to the mall with them, and the world
begins to unravel.

The bio-agent is infectious (of course) and anyone bitten by a zombie is
doomed to become a zombie as well. Soon the mall is teaming with
shambling flesh eaters, and some measure of tension arises. I say only
some, because the tone of the movie even now is irreverant and
slapstick. References to video games abound, and any tool found around a
mall is pressed into service in the role of zombie slayer.

Overall, the movie follows this progression: first third chatty and a
bit slow, second third building toward the climactic zombie battle,
final third gory and exciting, but ending more somberly. I don't think
I'd give this movie more than a 6 out of 10, but with Halloween coming
up, it is certainly appropriate, and cheesy and low-budget enough to
make for silly fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:41 AM

Hong Kong Movie Reviews

Occasionally I'll post a review of a Hong Kong movie I've watched.
The links will be added here as they appear.