Archive for November, 2007

So there I was …

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Asleep in bed, as one normally is at 1am when one must work in the morning, when I was awoken by a clatter. Butch, my cat, had apparently decided it was time to find a toy. From the sound, she was obviously not chasing a whiffle golf ball around the floor; she’d knocked something off a table or shelf. It sounded small and non-breakable, so I decided to ignore it until the morning.

Then, at 4am, she started purring and kneading my neck. This is something she hasn’t done in years – I kept my bedroom door shut at all times for the last several years of Kiki’s (my other cat) life, because she had ruined the bedspread by using it as a litter box, among other things. When I replaced it, I banished the cats to prevent Kiki from ruining that one.

I was surprised that Butch came into the bedroom. She really hadn’t done it at night since I started keeping the door open again – I presumed the noise of my CPAP running was keeping her out. Be that as it may, she wandered out after working on my neck a while.

She came back in at 6am. So I got up and fed her, then went to the bathroom and discovered that the toy she found at 1am was my toothbrush. Now, I’m dressed and presumably ready for work, but I haven’t had a good night’s sleep, my eyes are burning, my mouth tastes foul, and I’ve got dance classes from 8 to 10 tonight that I’m not certain I’ll be awake for. I’ll pick up a new toothbrush on the way to work. I hadn’t planned on needing a new one for a few weeks.

Anybody want a cat?

He’s not Zeferelli

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

… but I think Marko’s got a winning idea here. I’m pretty certain my daughter will like it.

Ooh, pretty!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007


Found at Best Pic Ever.

You can build a mainframe from the things you find at home

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Well, perhaps not. But Bill Buzbee built his own roughly-8086-equivalent computer from scratch, using wire-wrapped 7400-series logic. He also ported a C compiler an an operating system. Now that’s a homebrew computer!

Via One and One is 2.

Liable to become a problem

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Billy Beck notes the loss of an entire line of aircraft engine replacement parts, due to the inability of the manufacturer to obtain product liability insurance.

Some years ago, I read an article that pointed out how long it had been since a new engine design had been introduced into the small aircraft market – again, due to product liability concerns. Liability attorneys tend to go after anyone with money when an accident occurs. Even if it isn’t the engine at fault in a crash, how can the manufacturer prove it in court? Worse yet, how often can they afford to try to prove it in court?

Because of this, liability insurance costs go up, the the point where the business is no longer profitable. It’s not just aircraft engines – several states are losing doctors because of malpractice insurance costs.

Tort reform is long overdue.

Learning a language with an iPod

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I’ve recently bought an iPod Nano. I’ve owned a Shuffle for a couple of years now (I won it in a drawing at the 2005 Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco), and I wanted one that had a display that allowed me to pick and choose, as well as identify what was playing if I didn’t recognize it.

One reason was so that I could load some foreign-language lessons onto it – I ran across a magazine article some months ago extolling the benefits of such an approach. As a result, I’ve tracked down the following sites that have things I’ll be trying in future:

Japanese Pod 101

World Wide Learn

Foreign-language podcasts at Open Culture

Strike while the irony’s hot

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Dymphna at Gates of Vienna takes an idea and runs with it; the idea being that of bloggers crossing the picket lines of the striking screenwriters.

How would you go about marching on a picket line in cyberspace, anyway? Set up a cron job to broadcast “Unfair!” or “Down with (insert-name-here)!” on an IRC channel?

Update: Had to replace the angle brackets in the second placard slogan with parentheses – the angle brackets and what was inside them were being “swallowed.”

A leopard don’t change his stripes

Monday, November 5th, 2007

But Leopard is spotty in its overall effect, according to Computerworld. As I’m not a Mac power user yet (my Windows background still keeps getting in the way), some of their kudos and critiques don’t mean much to me, but I’ll certainly keep them in mind. There are links in the article to more in-depth articles about some of Leopard’s features.

By the way, the post title is a quote from Oscar.


Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Navy beat Notre Dame! The last time Navy beat Notre Dame was 44 years ago, which would put it in the 1963 season when Roger Staubach led Navy to the national championship.

The service academies haven’t been really competitive with the top football schools since the early-to-mid 1960s. That’s when a combination of factors (Vietnam, growth in NFL salaries, the five-year commitment to the service after graduation, etc.) changed things so that the academies became much less desirable to the top high school football players. Because they aren’t competitive, the only reason Notre Dame kept Navy on its schedule is that the Notre Dame-Navy game is the longest-running continuous rivalry in college football, even though it’s been very one-sided for most of my life. Very few players at the academies can hope to make the NFL a career after being away from the game for five or more years. I can’t speak for graduates of West Point or the Air Force Academy, but one of my classmates had a tryout with the Detroit Lions as a punter, although (so far as I know) he didn’t make the cut, and, of course, Napoleon McCallum (who attended after my time) played several years for the Oakland Raiders.

I’ve attended a couple of Navy-Notre Dame games. One was at the Notre Dame campus. The highlight of the trip for me was attending a Paul Simon concert that evening – he appeared with the Dixie Hummingbirds and Urubamba as backup groups. The other thing I remember was all of the Notre Dame students I met (it seemed like all of them, anyway) importuning me to buy them drinks with my “free government money.” As I recall, at the time I was getting an allowance of $10 or $20 per month out of my salary; USNA didn’t trust us to budget.

The other game was in Philadelphia, so the entire Brigade (apart from those in the hospital or working off too large an accumulation of demerits) attended. I was convinced, watching that game, that the entire refereeing staff was Catholic, and going to the Notre Dame bench between quarters for confession: when the Navy ballcarrier was stopped, it seemed as though he would be held in place while several Notre Dame players smashed into him. If he lost the ball, it was a fumble. When the Notre Dame ballcarrier was hit and lost the ball, there was no fumble, the play was blown dead.

Some of that is just poor memory, partisanship, and sour grapes, I’m sure, but it’s been shown in more sports than one that the stars and favorites are given more slack by the refs, and Navy hasn’t been a star in the football world for a long time. I’m glad to see them take this one. I wish I’d been there.

One from Metafilter

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

25 Photographs Taken at the Exact Right Time.