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: Sumana has gotten her wisdom teeth out without complications. She is now resting. Sumana was quoted as saying "Ow!"

Baffling Interface: My fridge has an "Energy Saver" mode. The switch has two settings: "Use (Damp Exterior)" and "Save (Normal)". It's on "Use". If I want to save energy, should I switch it to "Save"?

Update: This web page explains what the switch does but only in a tiny clause does it actually explain which setting is which. "Save (Normal)" is the setting I want, unless I start seeing a damp exterior, in which case I should switch to "Use (Damp Exterior)" to get rid of the damp exterior.

Go Now And Smite The Crudites, Who Have Displeased Me: Spent the whole day cooking for tomorrow's blowout. Way more people claim to be showing up than I planned for, but I am prepared. Tomorrow I just have to make simple things like the guacamole and the crudite dip. I have decided to pronounce "crudite" like it's the name of an Old Testament tribe.

Summer Disease: The party is in progress. I have decided to adopt the consensus pronunciation of "crudite" but to spell it "croup d'eté".

[Comments] (4) : The party was a success! I'm tired. According to Seth, Aaron Swipe Swartz has picked up a lively interest in Jake Berendes, so I lent Seth my audiotape copy of Jake's "lost" (ie. not purchasable or downloadable online[0]) album, robot moped dehumidifier, the idea being that Seth can make a copy of it and send it to Aaron. I really wish it were available online; just about every song on that album is great.

Manoj showed up! I'm pretty excited about this. Manoj was on the east coast for a while but he came back here to work for Google. I'm glad because Manoj is the model for a character in a story I'm writing and I want to keep him under close observation.

PS: Kevin, your cheese and cracker arrangement was a big hit. Thanks for helping me set up!

[0] Except for Jake's cover and semi-cover of Chickadee and Check Yourself (For Ticks)), which I have cunningly mirrored to boost my own ego.

[Comments] (2) Unidentified Stationary Objects #2: This one's in Iran. Oil slick? Meteor impact crater? Parked alien spacecraft? Another weird volcano? I can't see this one in other sattelite photos so it's more likely to be a transient phenomenon.

[Comments] (7) : Today we saw two similar movies, Double Indemnity and The Lavender Hill Mob. Double Indemnity was an amazing movie: original, strong theme, good acting from everybody. One thing I noticed is that Fred MacMurray is basically a more versatile version of Will Ferrell. Try it out sometime and you'll see that every one of Fred MacMurray's roles is one that Will Ferrell would like to have, and you'd think it would be great, but he'd probably mess it up somehow. I'm not a big Will Ferrell fan but watching Fred MacMurray actually makes me feel better about watching Will Ferrell.

The Lavender Hill Mob was okay but definitely the low point of the Alec Guinness comedies from Ealing. I believe we've seen them all now so I can say that. It started losing my interest after the caper was pulled off, and the ending was an interminable Laurel and Hardy-type chase sequence which made me not like the movie. But if I ignore that part it was definitely enjoyable. I was hoping there'd be more of a mob.

[Comments] (1) Nothing Happens: I made sourdough soup and I like it (not as much as the one I had at the restaurant) but Sumana doesn't. Tomorrow my mother and Rachel come up. Hoorah! Other than that nothing really interesting is happening here. I thought I came up with the term "social robot", but not even close.

[Comments] (1) Bad Numerology: Horrible things have been happening within two days of our birthdays. Yesterday there was the Tube bombing in London, and tomorrow's my birthday. Two days before Rachel's birthday the Madrid bombing happened. And Sumana's birthday is near September 11. I expected that as I got older my birthday would become a grim confrontation with mortality, but I wasn't expecting it to start so quickly.

In non-awful news, my mother and Rachel are here, and today we went to 826 Valencia.

[Comments] (4) : Went to a Giants game today with my mother, uncle, Sumana, etc. It was surprisingly fun. It certainly went a lot faster than the last time I saw a major league baseball game (approx. 18 years ago), but maybe subjective time just goes faster now.

: Doing all right. I have a big project (more on this later) and I didn't get much done on it earlier this weekend because of the birthday celebrations, but I made significant progress this evening. Sorry for not posting much interesting, but maybe you'll enjoy some Epigrams in Programming.

Foreign Policy: The new beat by Jake Berendes hails back in its lo-fi splendor and Internet pranksterism to his early days with crupper scupper supper upper and the flupperdupper maleatora. His previous solo albums (including his debut, <simulated wood grain vinyl>, which I only recently remembered about) showed him on a clear trajectory into a black hole constructed of samples pasted together on a cosmic Macintosh.

But Foreign Policy demonstrates Jake and his guitar and the rain alone in his bedroom and not even sounding as high-quality as stuff I've done that people ribbed me about afterwards. Leading me to believe that these seemingly artless recordings are actually microsecond samples of ambient noise, twisted into an approximation of the Berendan vocal cords like the Guns 'n' Roses Self-Similar Midi Synth. Just as the song lyrics have been constructed from the shattered hopes of people who asked the web for something and got Jake Berendes instead. Each song fulfils a search request while giving the listener the feeling that they have failed to find something.

Songs to watch out for as they climb the pop charts: "jla dreamer", "history of sour candy", "old lamborghinis", and the Matthew Barney-esque "synchromaids".

[Comments] (1) Name Popularity Edge Cases: I know where to go to find statistics on the popularity of the names people choose when they name their children. Where would I go to find statistics on the popularity of the names people choose when they change their own names?

[Comments] (2) : Hey, mom, I found a couple of Pratchett stories online, which you probably haven't read.

MetaQOTD: Sumana said I should "blog" this, so here goes.

Let me quote the noted sage, "earlier version of myself":

Entry with link in it to follow.

: Found from the Project Gutenberg feed: The Pursuit of the House-Boat is an early piece of fan fiction starring the ghosts of various historical and fictional characters. It is little better than a hypothetical Hanna-Barbera cartoon dealing with the same subject, but the clever part is that it features Sherlock Holmes, freshly dead from his trip over Reichenbach Falls.

The author figured that since Conan Doyle was sick of using the Holmes character, he could just steal it and use it in his own works (I wonder if you could use Holmes this way today.) But then the story's canonality was invalidated when Conan Doyle started writing Holmes stories again, claiming that Holmes didn't actually die. Retcon is a cruel mistress.

As previously noted, the illustration captions make a good story on their own:


[Comments] (3) I Never Thought I'd Say This: but I think this container ship might carry too many shipping containers.

[Comments] (1) This Time, For Sure: Surely 2006 will be the year of Linux.

[Comments] (1) Crossover Time: H. L. Mencken and H. P. Lovecraft.

[Comments] (1) : There must be something interesting you could do with this list of each day's registered .com domains. Did you know that 149,161 new .com domains were registered yesterday? Most of them are just sitting there as search engine bait; in fact, a lot of them look to have been registered automatically from search requests.

Update: I ego-grepped the domain list and found "leonardispizza". Who dares claim that I am pizza? A search engine bait domain, that's who.

[Comments] (8) Beginning Python: More thrilling (for me) than the wait for Half-Blood Prince: my book comes out on Friday. In celebration I'm experimenting with shameless marketing on my home page, similar to how Ted Leung advertises his book, but with the lousy page design you've come to know and know from crummy.com. I really, really hope that that cover is not the actual cover they went and printed, because my picture on that cover makes me look like the biggest freak in the world. Worse than my passport photo. I sent them another picture, but who knows what goes on in these publishing companies. Anyway, buy the book, if only to embarrass me.


Dear Life in These United States
I sew plush squids and sharks and skates
And as these photos indicate
They're really great
Honest injun

Non-Life On Other Planets: Really great APOD today, and of course moon maps. Turns out the moon is not nearly as interesting as the Earth. Should be fun fodder for Paolo's Games on Google Maps list. You know, Google Maps has totally rehabilitated Javascript. People (inc. me if I weren't busy) are falling all over themselves to write stuff in this primitive and previously shunned programming language.

: I wanted to call our pirate ship the S.S. Mutiny. Kevin disagreed. I pointed out that whenever we made a raid, it would be bounty on the Mutiny. Kevin was not as impressed by this as I felt he should have been.

[Comments] (8) The Spice Trade: I bought a bunch of spices a while back. I bought a bunch of spices. I didn't figure the weights correctly so I've got enough sage, dried parsley, cloves, etc. to last for years. So if you want some spices, let me know when you're at my house and I'll give you some.

Among my spices are many whole spices which I figured I would grind as needed to make them last longer. This has not worked out very well because I have found no good way to grind spices in small amounts. I got a tiny coffee grinder because that's what Alton Brown recommended, but you have to fill it to the top with spices to get a good grind, which defeats the purpose. Should I just buy a mortar and pestle?

That Can't Be Good: I saw a truck with a bumper sticker saying "I got my wiki whacked at Luau Larry's".

[Comments] (4) Waffle Iron Panini: Riana came over and I made tomato soup for lunch. I planned to make grilled cheese sandwiches too. Sumana suggested the idea of grilling the sandwiches in the waffle iron. It worked out really well. Some waffle irons let you switch out the places for a special panini plate, but why bother? It works just as well with a regular waffle iron and it looks a lot more interesting.

[Comments] (1) Rubyful Soup: I should have done this yesterday because I don't have time to go into a lot of detail this morning, but I want to get some feedback before I go on the dinosaur hunt. I've ported Beautiful Soup to Ruby. It's not terribly useful yet because it's based on the standard library parser in Ruby, which throws exceptions when it encounters bad markup, but it's getting there. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Etiquette: "If a woman has a title of her own, she should be addressed as Dr. Minnie Wilson." Even if that's not her name.

[Comments] (1) No Relation: Crummy Church Signs, from Garrett.

[Comments] (2) Things To Do In Alberta When You're Not Dead: We have an extra day in our dinosaur hunt trip. We are going to go to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, and the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, and the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump of previous NYCB fame, and the Glacier National park. What else should we do in that general area (we can't really go camping)? Should we stay at one of those Olde Tyme Cowboy Lodges and eat chuckwagon food?

[Comments] (2) Perfect Gift: for Seth or Riana: Blackbeard and Other Notorious Pirates Coloring Book. "Exciting illustrations depict the daring deeds of five swashbuckling renegades and their cohorts, notorious for victimizing the high seas and harbor towns of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries."

Return Of Revenge Of Guest Weblog: Oh yeah, as long as I'm going on vacation, I should start the guest weblog back up. It's like getting the band back together.

: Destroy ambiguity with thought experiments.

Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede: This is a great book. I say this because I really identify with the author. It's exactly the sort of book I would like to write, full of excitement and humor and chases and really weird stuff that doesn't let up. The writing style reminds me of Gordon Korman. Highly recommended and (like all the books Susanna tried to buy for me for my birthday) out of print.

: I am digging on microformats.

[Comments] (1) Local Boy Makes Good: When I ran a BBS, back in the 90s when everything was fresh and new, I had a caller named Gabriel Koerner. Gabe came to our sparsely-populated get-togethers and contributed on the message boards, which made him a dedicated caller in those days of higher standards for user interaction (whereas now a dedicated weblog reader is someone who subscribes to the RSS feed and occasionally leaves a comment).

Gabe Koerner was kind of odd, but my BBS was geared towards people who were kind of odd, so he fit right in. He was a big Star Trek nut, but so was I. "Ah," you might say, trying to look for the essential difference between him and me. "But Gabe was in fact such a Star Trek nut that he wrote fanfic Star Trek parodies." Which is also what I did. I thought Gabe was annoying sometimes, and that his Star Trek parodies were somewhat derivative of mine, but it's obvious in retrospect that I was also annoying at that age, and forensic analysis would reveal my own Star Trek parodies to be somewhat derivative of Robert I. Brayer's. So I don't think there was really any qualitative difference between my dysfunction and Gabe's.

However, my dysfunction remained mostly unnoticed in those pre-web days and even now manifests itself only on this obscure weblog, whereas Gabe's was captured on film in the hit independent film Trekkies, a film about Star Trek geeks and their awkward differences from consensus society. I haven't seen the movie but here's how Gabe describes himself on screen: "[S]o snyde [sic], so condescending and unappreciative. So damned whiny and anal retentive." Not a good foot to put forward.

Over the years I sometimes heard discussion of Trekkies, and Gabriel Koerner was always mentioned as the film's pinnacle of hopeless geekdom. Now, when you say that kind of thing about someone who used to call my BBS, it's like saying it about a member of my family, albeit a member of my family so distantly removed by blood that I probably don't really do anything about your saying it. Anyway, what could I say? The common Trekkies-derived perception of Gabe was not wholly incompatible with Gabe as I knew him; I just felt it was in bad taste to make a documentary about it.

But it turns out that Gabe doesn't need any lame "put up your dukes!" type defense from me, because he has managed to parlay his geekdom and his appearance in Trekkies (not to mention Trekkies II, which I think they missed a golden opportunity to tack a The Wrath Of onto the title) into a series of gigs making CGI models for science fiction TV shows and movies. He worked on the last two episodes of Enterprise (in fact, I think he was just about the only good thing about the last episode), and on the Serenity movie, and he's working on the Battlestar Galactica remake that's taking up 15 hours of my TiVo space. So without selling out to consensus society Gabe has made a place for himself. Here's his weblog where he posts occasional notes about his projects.

Once again Danny O'Brien's advice proves its worth. In fact, I think it needs to be given its own name for easier reference. Ideally something like "The O'Brien Heuristic" that sounds like a Star Trek reference in its own right.

The other day I got mail from Gabe letting me know that he and the rest of the Battlestar Galactica effects team are up for an Emmy. He has made me want to watch (part of) an awards show, something that has never happened before. Good luck, Gabe.

Banned Books That Are Lousy: The subtext of some lists of banned books is that these books are inherently worth reading because someone doesn't want you to read them. Otherwise bookstores wouldn't have special displays and sales on the banned books. But it needs to be said and I'll say it: some of these books are just plain lousy.

For instance, Catcher in the Rye. Boringest goddamned book I ever read. I also really hated Bless Me, Ultima, but that might have been because I was forced to read it in high school. The Goosebumps series: pure fluff. Etcetera. It would be useful if the book-banners consistently banned only stuff like Huckleberry Finn and A Wrinkle In Time, because then we could use their reactions as an oracle for literary quality, but unfortunately that doesn't work.

Guest Weblog Time: RSS feed people, here's the RSS feed for the guest weblog. There's some stuff from last year in the feed (and on the front page right now), but hopefully it will soon be replaced by brand new content.

: I'm in Bozeman, Montana, home of dinosaurs and the warp drive. We're about to drive into Canada. Yesterday saw the Museum of the Rockies, which was awesome.

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