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Whee!: Ok, the real site is back up. You know what the next entry on this site will say... but when will it be posted? Stay tuned.

: Ok, we're back up (with a couple minor fixes still to be made). NewsBruiser works again, which means that people (like me) can start updating their weblogs. I'll be posting all my previous editthispage entries in here so as to mantain history, and then I'll go to sleep.

PS: the time on this entry is East Coast time. I'll have to add time zone compensation code to NewsBruiser to handle a server in a different time zone.

: And so it begins 3/19/02; 10:29:54 AM

Thanks, I'm here all week (until Friday). I just realized that leonardr@segfault won't work to contact me, so please use leonardr@linux.ucla.edu (nice of them to let me keep my account, huh?)

: Photo roundup 3/19/02; 10:38:12 AM

  1. Red vs. Blue vs. White

  2. Tonight's Episode: Dial M For Merger

  3. I took this same picture when I was in Houston! (it's not funny; I just thought it interesting that I took the same picture).

  4. "My opponent has been known to use ad hominem arguments!"

: QOTD, and IOTD 3/19/02; 3:15:37 PM

"It's actually pretty fun to be really tall in the Far East, because you feel a little like Godzilla." -- Robert Bennefield, our 7'-ish director of Ops.


There's software that will determine whether two pieces of code are similar, for purposes of detecting plagiarism in class assignments. But let's say you had software that could detect 'similarity' between two pieces of software. You could also run it on two different parts of the same program to automatically find places where you could benefit from factorization. Shazam! It's like a reduce-to-the-halting-problem proof, only it gives you something good instead of something bad!

Of course, 'similar' for purposes of detecting plagiarism is a much easier concept than 'similar' for purposes of detecting factorability, so you probably can't use existing software similarity software for this purpose. But software to do that would be a very useful tool, especially if you're like me and find it boring to inspect code for factorability.

: Conrad's Revenge, or, My Dinner With Andre 3/19/02; 10:43:48 PM

So, Jason Robbins and I planned to have dinner with Andre Stechert, a friend of Jason's from UCLA. We went to the BART station to go into Frisco, but the BART station was closed due to an anthrax scare. So we had to arrange other means and we had a lowbrow but fun-conversation-filled dinner at Lyons. BART is open again now, and I recommend Andre Stechert for your next dinner party. He has interesting ideas for and insights into new hardware.

Update: Sumana says that everyone who has dinner with Andre Stechert probably writes about it as "My Dinner With Andre". "No one wants to have breakfast or lunch or any other meal with him," she hypothesises.

That's as may be, but during my dinner with Andre, Jason said that my factorization-detection software has already been written. It's called CloneDR, and it looks pretty good.

Also, Andre pointed out that Tolkien likes to end chapters of Lord of the Rings with "And that was the last time they ever saw x."

: 'Render' unto Caesar 3/20/02; 2:20:21 PM

When the real world looks like a screenshot from Myst, something is wrong.

: Wow! 3/20/02; 4:11:10 PM

Thanks, Kris! Unfortunately, the link doesn't work right now.

: Just when you thought it was safe 3/21/02; 9:05:32 AM

Behold the Terrordactyl!

Just one of the many bizarre, bizarre photographs on that site.

: Bertie Wooster, Genteel Misogynist: Second in a Series 3/22/02; 9:40:17 AM

"Oh, Bertie, you're here," gushed Madeline.

I tipped my hat. "What ho, old weaker v."

: Make your avocation your vocation 3/24/02; 9:32:18 AM

The SF Weekly, like the other BIGNUM free weekly rags in the Bay Area, has a back page devoted to eye-catching classified ads. The ads are usually the same every week, so they become old standbys in my mind. There's one that begins "SMOKE POT - GET PAID!" and one that begins "GET PAID FOR WATCHING TV!". All that's missing is "EAT FRITOS - GET PAID!"

: Once upon a time 3/24/02; 11:12:34 AM

There were four struggling companies, individually unable to afford a banner ad. However, they pooled their resources and purchased the services of a demented graphic designer, and everyone was happy except the people who actually saw the ad. The end.

: The willies 3/25/02; 11:58:32 AM

I'm very nervous because in a little while I'm going to the orthodontist for the first of my two braces appointments. I must wear braces for two years! And a retainer for a year after that! The prospect is greatly disturbing to me. People I know say it's not a big deal, you get used to it, etc, but this is of little comfort.

I'm also a little aggravated that the regular site isn't up yet, though not very much as I know how these things go.

: Braces: Day 0.5 3/26/02; 6:18:55 AM

I've already caused a bracket to come unglued from a tooth, I think by eating toast. Upon searching the literature I was given, I discover that toast is mentioned on one of the four lists of 'foodstuffs to avoid'. I should have guessed. The cheap melt-in-your-mouth Gummy Bread sold in the bread aisle next to the Hostess Snack Cakes would probably denature into toast I could eat, but the day I buy that stuff is... well, sometime this week probably.

There's a really good bakery by the orthodontist, and out of habit I went in to get some bread, only realizing afterwards that I wouldn't be able to eat the bread! I have a French baguette and a beautiful ring of tasty cornbread which I can't eat. Bah!

It took me 15 minutes to floss my teeth. Bah!

I couldn't find many braces-friendly recipes on the Web. Bah! I'm probably going to start my own list of recipes.

The machine hosting Crummy is back up, but Crummy itself is not. Not sure whether it's a nameserver thing or an Apache configuration thing; either way, it's still out of my control AFAICT.

: More Complaints About Buildings And Food 3/26/02; 12:16:15 PM

I have a feeling I'll be losing a lot of weight over the next two years, since braces make eating (and cleaning up after eating) such a big hassle that unless you're really hungry it's a lot easier just to not eat. Dan says "You could do what flies do and throw up on your food to sort of pre-digest it." Of course, I need to lose weight anyway, so why not raise the barriers to entry--into my mouth, that is!

In other news, Pakistan is apparently now CNNistan.

: Congratulations 3/27/02; 11:31:46 AM

are in order for Sumana, who has passed her driving test! Three quarks for her!

: Webmasters Use Lens Flare Effect To Report Story 3/27/02; 2:39:02 PM

Scientists use radiation to cure flatulence. Next week: Scientists use flatulence to cure radiation.

: Weeping and wailing and brushing of teeth 3/29/02; 1:15:22 PM

From the cafeteria in the Hitachi building I bought a huge baked potato with all sorts of stuff dumped on top of it: chili, broccoli (but not Erin Broccoli), mushrooms, cheese sauce, sour cream, etc, etc. For the first time in what seems like a long time (but was actually less than a week), I ate a meal that filled me up and didn't make my teeth hurt.

You'd think my life would be really boring right now that mere satiation is newsworthy. It's not boring; I simply haven't written about the many exciting things I've been experiencing.

: Okay, that brings us up to date with editthispage, though not up to date in general. Coming soon: Frank Muir His Autobiography, Strike up the Band, very tasty tiramisu, and possibly more!

: I bought a used copy of A Kentish Lad online, and read it, and it's great. What is it about, you ask? None other than Frank Muir, world-famous comedian and raconteur (and 1/4, or 1/8, or something, of My x!). I like it for that reason and also because the subtitle is "Frank Muir: His Autobiography" but it's printed on the front cover as "FRANK MUIR HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY", the strange syntax of which I really like because it reminds me of John Baptist Porta's recipe for sympathetic powder, quoted by me in Degeneracy:

Take of the Moss growing on a dead man's skull, which has laid unburied, two ounces. As much of the fat of a man. Half an ounce of Mummy, and Frank Muir his autobiography.

Frank talks about his boyhood, his cushy yet very uncomfortable stint in the RAF, and his distinguished many-decade career in comedy. Being the rabid My x! fan I am, I'd heard him tell several of the anecdotes before on the air, but most of them were new, and of course his life is not just a sequence of anecdotes; he just can't resist throwing in a funny aside whenever he remembers one. Actually, the last chapter is just a sequence of Seinfeld-esque anecdotes, possibly the ones he couldn't think to put anywhere else. But that's fine!

My only disappointment was at the end; he ends the book with a mutated quote, as though the book were a very long My Word! monologue, and I suppose this is supposed to be touching, but I didn't find it so; nor was it funny. Oh well. According to the afterward by his son Jamie, he wasn't doing too well near the end of the book, and died shortly thereafter. :(

Anyway--the book is good booze, and I will lend it to people. It's out of print, so you have to find it used or borrow it from me. Yes, those are your only two options.

: So, Strike up the Band!, the blockbuster Gershwin/Gershwin/Kaufman musical. Sumana and I went to see it last Friday. It was pretty good, thought not great. A lot of the songs were great, but their influence was mitigated by others which fell flat such that I couldn't wait for them to be over. And a couple were okay but seemed slavish, mediocre copies of the Gilbert and Sullivan style. I've got no complaints about Kaufman's writing, though; the farcical causus belli and battle scenes were very funny, and predated Duck Soup by over a decade.

I have it on good authority that they put on the wrong version of Strike up the Band!! They put on the 1927 version, but there was a 1930 version which apparantly had much better songs. Perhaps, in a misguided quest for authenticity, the producers ignored the revision.

Oh yeah, that reminds me. The dynamic of theatah -- high class, this, not your we'll-use-the-old-barn-I'll-paint-the-sets-and-we'll-save-the-school stuff -- is that of authenticity vs. relevance. Authenticity derives from the idea that if the 'author' of the 'primary text' put down a 'line of dialogue' or a 'stage direction', then when you're putting on the play you have some sort of obligation to make sure that 'line of dialogue' or 'stage direction' somehow figures in your production, even if the play was written hundreds of years ago in an entirely different part of the world! Relevance, the yang to authenticity's yin, is the idea that people will not pay to see your production unless you make it obvious that the play is applicable to this modern age of Enron bin Anthrax. Relevance is why I see Petruchio talking on a cell phone and Macbeth's men dressed in camoflauge gear (but still armed with swords; remember authenticity!). Relevance is a leading cause of those essays in theater programs exulting in the fact that fifty, a hundred, even 400 years is not enough time to make the actions of our predecessors completely dissimilar to our own actions. Relevance costs me money! Wait, no, it doesn't; I was thinking of that IBM commercial.

Because of this tension between authenticity and relevance, plays that negate the tension by being authentically relevant (such as Homebody/Kabul) are in great demand, as are plays that are relevantly authentic (like--wait, I'm not even sure what that means). Due to its extreme relevance, Strike up the Band! was performed with a minimum of relevance boosting, which is good for my blood pressure. The cast subjected us to a brief summary of the play, with special emphasis on its continued relevance (Actually, for all I know that little speech, about how the play is today more relevant than ever, is actually part of the play! George S. Kaufman, you nut!), then mercifully went into character and treated us to an authentic, all-too-authentic performance.

: And finally, the tale of tiramisu. But not just tiramisu! (Incidentally, "tiramisu" has got to be the most Japanese word in Italian.) On Friday night, after Sumana took the GRE, I met up with her and we went to The Steps of Rome in North Beach. I had some tasty ravioli which I cut up into little pieces so I wouldn't have to chew it, Sumana had some tasty pasta with eggplant, and we splurged by ordering a dessert each, which we shared.

One of the desserts was a custard thing with fruit syrup on it. Innovative, yet not very good. The other was tiramisu. Non-innovative, yet extremely tasty! The tiramisu was the best I've ever had. That's not saying a whole lot, since most tiramisu I've had was pretty bad; there was available to me, many years ago, some tiramisu made by Ellina Poulson which was probably as outstanding as everything else Ellina Poulson makes, but I don't think I actually ate any of it. My point is that I've suffered through bad tiramisu, and as such can recognize good tiramisu, such as the tiramisu served at the Steps of Rome.

But that's not all! Sumana then took my to the City Lights bookstore, where I nosed around and considered buying a copy of a Lovecraft anthology, but did not for three reasons:

  1. There are already too many books on the 'to read' portion of my bookshelf, some of which have been languishing there for over a year.
  2. Lovecraft seems like the sort of thing I can find online.
  3. I did not want to be seen in the hip City Lights bookstore doing something so gauche as paying for goods with money!

Moderate that I am, I felt positively counter-revolutionary in the hard-left atmosphere of City Lights (and Lectures, I always want to add). However, it has a really good sci-fi section which is all the better for being incredibly small; despite devoting only two shelves to sci-fi and related genre ghettoes, they had more Lovecraft than I've ever seen outside of a non-specialty bookstore, and more Lem than I've ever seen outside of the UCLA library (or outside of my room after I checked all the Lem out of the UCLA library). Thus, by my patented Stanislaus Lem Bookstore Quality Index, City Lights is the greatest bookstore ever! Hmm, I may need to recalibrate that index.

Sumana: [pointing to book titled "Against Empire"] Where's "Pro-Empire?"
Leonard: [in stage whisper] They don't stock it here! Keep your voice down!

: The braces have already had a noticable (to me) effect on my teeth; some gaps between teeth are now a lot easier to floss.

New (and fun) song: I Sing for my Supper. Jake should like it; maybe it will distract him from the fact that I still haven't dealt with his problems.

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