Sunday, April 30, 2006

I was scared, but I just think it's funny

( UPDATE: They used the "zip-tie" method, or something similar to it. I looked up tenodesis in a dictionary and found that it was a very general term referring to anchoring a tendon to a structure, like a bone, so I guess there are probably lots of ways of doing it.

It's pretty painful now. For some reason, a nerve block wasn't used even though it was used the last time. However, the last time the doctor doing the nerve block was flying solo and seemed to be really good at what he was doing (from observing other people there). In this case, I think there was a resident intern trailing the main guy and she was doing a lot of the handiwork. That makes me think they just had trouble with the block.

On the other hand, after getting the "happy juice," I remember being rolled into the operating room (and yes, they do just talk and talk and talk to each other just like on TV) and I never received any nerve block. They guy in pre-op next to me got the block right there in pre-op, but I didn't have the block applied by the time I was in the OR, so I don't think I got it at all. I *THINK* that must mean they just used a local to numb up the incision area... or maybe I was just too tired to notice that they were cutting me open and operating on me for 2 hours... <?>

The plus is that I was able to use my arm... It wasn't dead weight. It will be 10 days until I can use it without support. It will be many many months until I'll be able to apply any significant load to it. The HUGE bandage-ish-thing stays on until Thursday... Taking pain killers and stuff in the meantime. They seem to give me hiccups. Is that normal? )

In about 5 hours I'll be getting prepped for surgery.

For a LONG time now I've been having sharp pains in my shoulder/upper-arm whenever I do certain special movements. I especially have a problem when I "supinate" under even a light load. (that is, whenever I rotate my arm so that my palm is facing up)

The pathology of this usually points to something wrong in the shoulder... Some sort of rotator cuff problem. So they went in for surgery in February, found some bursitis, removed it, and sent me along my way... But that didn't solve the problem.

You see, there's something mechanically wrong with me. One of the two tendons that anchors down the upper part of my biceps muscle slides in a grove, like everyone else's. However, unlike everyone else's, it faces some sort of lateral load that causes it to slide out of that grove. When that happens, I get lots of pain.

So I'm going in tomorrow for another surgery. This time it's a "biceps tenodesis."

Now, early tonight I was really worried about this. I was really scared. You see, I was up and running pretty quickly after the last surgery. However, this surgery was going to leave me in a sling for four weeks (rather than just one) and recovery would take something like 4 months (rather than just a few months).

This surgery involves cutting the tendon that's having the problem and reattaching it to a new spot much lower on my arm where it can serve the same purpose as before but not ever slide out of that groove. Now, I had no idea how they were going to re-attach it. All sorts of crazy ideas were going through my head, and I was really worried that something would happen (I'd fall or something) and I'd end up ripping out whatever anchor they were going to use. I was really worried about how my arm would feel. I was really worried about being worthless and on painkillers for a long long time.

So I looked up the operation...

Biceps Tenodesis (with pictures and links and stuff)

Both surgery options seem funny to me. The second one is funny to me because my brother-in-law joked, "Couldn't they just put a zip-tie around it?" Apparently they can!
Picture of Zip-tied Tendon

The first one really got to me though. I *THINK* that's what they're going to do with me. They cut a KEY HOLE out of the bone in my upper arm, ball the tendon up, suture it into that ball shape, and slide it into the keyhole! Scar tissue holds the thing in place... and I'm guessing after a few months the bone and tendon grow together.
Picutre of Tendon Ball in Keyhole

That just seems silly to me! It reminds me of something you'd do to some old chair that is falling apart but you want to find a way to keep together... so you cut a notch out of it and slide the pieces together in some novel way that should hold it for a little while longer.

And heck, they even call the tool the use to do it a BURR! The page italicizes the name and everything... As if it was very sophisticated. Granted, doctors aren't auto mechanics because they operate on the motorcycle while the motorcycle is still running... But sometimes it's hard not to feel like there is a lot of similarity!

I am really scared that this won't work. However, I really feel like I'm finally on the same page as the doctors... I didn't feel the same way before the first surgery.

It's funny how... barbaric<?> medicine gets. A KEY HOLE!!

Two Great Finds: Hard-FI and PerlTeX

Two things have made me pretty happy today, PerlTeX and the Hard-FI album Stars of CCTV.

I'll start with the latter. A really popular song of off this album is Cash Machine. If you did it, then I think you'll dig the rest of the songs on the album. I really like the acoustic version of the song (also on the album). I also like the acoustic version of Hard to Beat (of course, there are lots of remixes of this song).

( another good song off of the album that is notable because it is a lot slower than the rest is Move On Now. I never realized the last verse of this song existed until I looked at the lyrics and listened to the song with headphones on... He sings it very softly )

( side note: the little Griffin in-ear headphones I'm using now are amazing... Really great sound quality yet the sound is all mine. No radiating acoustic waves from Teddy-poo )

Now the former. There's a good example of its niftiness in this message. It basically allows you to embed Perl within your LaTeX document. This probably screws up the portability of your document, but if you don't plan on trading the document source with anyone, I think it can be immensely helpful.

Alright... I'm going to get back to feeling guilty for working at Panera during lunch time...

Nice surprise from below

I got a knock on my door at 1:18am tonight. So that was weird.

It was my downstairs neighbor. Apparently it's his girlfriend's birthday, so they're having a few friends over and might get a little loud. He said that if it got al ittle too loud, I should just let him know with a few taps on the floor.

It's the first time I've met the guy.

Now, often the guy downstairs is a little loud. It does sorta drive me nuts... But I view it as character development on my part if I just learn to live with it.

For some reason, meeting the guy somehow makes things better. I'm somehow more okay with them being loud downstairs. (just the other day I said hello to him as he took out his trash; I was about to ask him if he needed any help (he had a few bags))

Now, I'm a little freaked out because they're frequently pretty loud. If he NOW feels like he needs to warn me, I'm wondering exactly how much worse it could get!!

There was a This American Life on a few weeks ago about a similar experience. Neighbors getting to know each other because they were linked acoustically.

Anyway... I just thought that was something notable... So there you have it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Is the Jesus bread really hard today?

( Update: They're SCHOOL TEACHERS!! )

I'm in Panera right now. There's something surreal going on behind me.

A few moments ago, a couple of young women came in and sat behind me. One of them was talking about some group she just joined where each person in the group does an extensive study of one book of the Bible all year long and then the group gets together to talk about what they've read. The woman's mother apparently joined this group a while ago and has been talking to one of her friends in some other state who is also doing the program. Anyway, the other woman thought it sounded really neat, so they were going to sit down and talk about it... However, they were hungry, so they went up to get food first.

So they go up to get their food from the Panera people. They sit down... And... Before they ate... They prayed. They prayed at a Panera. It wasn't the standard, "bless this mess" prayer that you might hear at someone's house (not anyone in my immediate family). It was a major prayer. It wasn't only thanking "Lord" (whoever that is) for the food, but also for their lives and for His plan for them and all of that. They thanked "Lord" for the time they had to sit at Panera and have some good food and hopefully get some work done too. It went on FOR A LONG TIME. It was pretty ... impressive.

What was funny is that a few minutes later the woman started talking about how hard her bread was. She said her favorite part was the bread and it just was too hard today. She was really disappointed... This was after that long prayer thanking "Lord" for all the food!!

Then they went on to talk about which books each of them would study.

I'm not kidding. This really happened. Panera has turned into the twilight zone...

On a related note, check out the "Soul for Sale" story from Weekend America this week (the audio should be available now):
A few months ago, a Chicago graduate student auctioned off a chance to save his soul on eBay, and an ex-pastor in Seattle was the lucky bidder. Both started out with their own secret motive, but through the exchange, they’ve developed a unique relationship. Independent producer Blake Farmer caught up with the men to find out what they’re doing now.

Oh, now one of them is going on about a woman she lived with when she was in college. Apparently her roommate's boyfriend lived down the street and was always over... "He had keys and everything." She was really upset about it...

Okay, time to get back to work... This is really distracting though.

Her name is Rio and she rides the bus alone....

Audio for this short story will be made available shortly.

Rio Seeks to Deter Subway Groping
Rio de Janeiro designates some subway cars for women only in a bid to deter a persistent problem: groping.

From Reuters:
Rio women applaud no-men, pink-striped metro cars
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Women commuters filled female-only, pink-striped subway cars in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on Monday on the first day of a scheme to avert groping and other unwanted sexual advances.

A law passed by the state legislature and signed by Rio Gov. Rosinha Matheus last month obliged the underground Metro and above-ground railways to have separate passenger cars for women during the weekday rush hours.

"It's the first day today and we had women applauding when men, who had entered their carriage without knowing about the rule, got off," a spokeswoman for the private Metro Rio company said.

Frequent complaints from women commuters about sexual harassment in crowded railway cars had prompted state legislators to pass the bill.

One car in every of Metro Rio's 33 trains is marked with pink stripes on doors and windows. The company said female passengers would themselves control men's entry into the cars, seeking the help of security guards if necessary.

Railroad company Supervia, which serves Rio and its suburbs, identifies its female-only cars with signs similar to those on women's restrooms.

Men won't be barred from the female-only cars during an initial phase but after that railroad police would enforce the new rule, a Supervia spokesman said.

Rio joins Tokyo and Mexico City as major cities that provide female-only train cars.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

More QuickSilver for Windows

(QuickSilver, SlickRun, and Colibri)

QuickSilver is a popular application for OS X. At its simplest level, it's an application launcher. You hit CNTRL+SPACE and start typing in the first few characters of an application name. In lightning speed, it matches all of the possible programs you might mean. Once you get to the one you want, hit ENTER and it starts. It's very nice. (it has lots of plugins that add neat features too. For example, you can use it as a calculator, dictionary, or thesaurus)

QuickSilver users often start to miss it when they have to work on Windows PC's in other parts of their lives. A common answer these users is SlickRun. SlickRun is really nice. It doesn't look like QuickSilver at all. However, it's still very effective. It doesn't have all of QuickSilver's features, but it does have enough (easy to use) features that make working in Windows (almost) bearable again.

However, today I heard about another Windows application that is so clearly a QuickSilver rip-off that I think it's criminal that they don't mention QuickSilver. I haven't installed it yet, but it looks like it might be really cool. It's called Colibri. If it works as well as SlickRun, then it may be the best application launcher available for OS X users working on Windows.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

They killed another one!!

Second OSU chimp dies in Texas
Bobby, a 16-year-old chimpanzee, was found dead in his enclosure at the Primarily Primates refuge April 20. He was one of the retired chimps that called The Ohio State University Chimpanzee Center home until its closure on Feb. 21.

A memorial to Bobby

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

GTD and TiddlyWiki Unite!

So there have been some pretty exciting developments that combine the innovative productivity system GTD [1] with the innovative personal notebook system, TiddlyWiki [2,3].
  • d3 ("d cubed") - a "kinkless" GTD Tiddly Wiki
  • d3-fusion - d3 with a classic GTD Tiddly Wiki look
  • MonkeyGTD - a GTD inspired task manager that is highly tag based
That's pretty exciting. It's nice to see even more integration between these two groups.

For more information, consult some of the links I've posted at my website.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Berkeley on iTunes U? iTUNES U?

This is fascinating to me.

Berkeley on iTunes U

Apparently Berkeley has been podcasting its lectures. That's not so interesting. Lots of other schools (some so lowly and dilapidated as Duke) do podcasting. However, apparently Berkeley has gotten together with iTunes and makes them available FOR FREE for download by ANYONE with iTunes.

There are a number of different areas each with a number of different courses each with lots of different lectures. All of them look like undergraduate courses. IB 31, a survey of animal behavior with emphasis on behavioral ecology, has had 22 lectures so far.

What's interesting is that these downloads include every lecture, including the very first one where they do organization of all the students. That means you hear the instructor passing out index cards and asking people to submit their schedules and all that jazz. Now, I've never gone to college anywhere but OSU, so I thought it was pretty cool to hear that other schools (even as hoity-toity as Berkeley) have the same operating procedures. Then later in the lectures, you hear instructors giving the same caliber lectures as you could get somewhere else. Again, I thought that was kinda cool.

HOWEVER, they also mention that Berkeley has gotten rid of blackboards and has gone to some new "B-space" system that automatically digitizes everything that was printed to the board and posts it on-line. (and I don't think those are available unless you really know how to hunt and peck for them, and it might require being a Berkeley student) We don't have "B-space" at OSU in any of the departments I visit... So that sorta humbled me again. :(

Anyway, I think it's good to know this is around. I wonder if iTunes U includes any others schools. (?)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Airplane III

This was sent to me over e-mail. I got a good laugh out of some of these.
After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Quantas' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers. By the way, Quantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they're for.

P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last ................

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A bishop, but not the church kind

NPR's Song of the Day today is "Central Booking" by Bishop Allen off of the February EP. You can listen to the song and read a little snippet about the band at:

A Youthful Misstep, Chronicled in Song

It's funny to me that the image linked to this story from the NPR home page is . . .
This gave me the impression that this band would be one of those "Our front man is a woman" bands. What's funny is that once you go to the story you see that the whole image is . . .
Oh, so there are guys in the band too? Well, if you actually listen to the music, you occasionally hear her voice, but she's primarily a guitarist/bassist. Vocal duties are spread among all of the members of the band... So I just think it's funny that NPR's teaser was a picture of a blond woman. I guess it caught my attention, so that speaks for itself . . .

Anyway, I can't find that EP available anywhere, but I found Charm School, so I examined some of its music. There were a few songs that didn't really appeal to me, but many of them did. Additionally, if you listen to the lyrics, some of them are pretty funny/cute.

Here's "Empire City", which toward the end features fun synthesizer and horn noises.
Somewhere in the front of the footlights
I'm looking for a good place to sit
All my lines get so complicated
That I take a fall into the orchestra pit

Samson suffered the same fate
Powerless and losing his hair
Somewhere in the wings there's a sensible whisper:
When the hero dies, does the audience care?

All the sneaky things we could do in the dark
And with every chance, I'd end up missing my mark
In the city of night, out in the city of snow
We kept playing the part where she's letting me go
She always reminds me:
We're playing the part where she's letting me go

Somewhere in the Empire City
Someone takes a curtain call
I'm so broke at the end of the evening
That you'll find me hopeless in the back of the hall

Brutus suffered the same fate
They left him all alone with his shame
Somewhere in the wings there's a sensible whisper:
When you wield the knife, learn to carry the blame

So maybe give them a shot.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Grad Cafe

I haven't passed judgment on this...yet...though I anticipate bad things.

Software privacy in China

There's a lot of talk this week about software piracy in China due to the Chinese leader's visit with Bill Gates.

Once upon a time I saw a graph of the amount of work hours required to afford Windows in a number of countries. In China it was something like 9 months.

How can you expect a country NOT to have rampant piracy when the average person blows 9 months salary on the program! And the program is just an operating system! It's trivial! It's not something specialized. It's not like people are saying, "Gee, wouldn't it be nice if I could run Windows... but I can survive with my PC without it." It's more like people saying, "Damn it, I need Windows Media Player 10 to work with my USB stick, and that only runs on XP, and I have Windows 2000 that I just recently bought, so now I need Windows XP or else all of these things are worthless to me."

Bill Gates wants China to ramp up its enforcement. If you're trying to add enough penalty to convince people to start buying TRIVIAL software, you're going to have to start putting them in prison for ten or twenty years! Maybe even death! Just to line the pockets of MICROSOFT? (a corrupt company to begin with!!)

Piracy is a symptom of a larger problem. It's silly to ramp up enforcement. (this goes for music downloading here in the US too)

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Haters don't like players, and players don't like haters...

Someday I hope to be an academic -- a professor teaching somewhere, with students and research grants, and all that jazz...

But I worry... Because people who do things like award funding are typically people who are excited about the award process, which means they're award winners themselves... and (aside from a few uncommon exceptions) I hate winners. I hate recognition. I think if someone wins something, the only person who should be notified is that person herself. She should accept her award, do something with it, and keep quiet about where she got the award.

However, because everyone, regardless of how you feel about narcissistic award winners, has to bow down to these people...

So is there no hope? Clustering together with people who don't think recognition should go beyond a small (10 or 12 people -- perhaps geographically distributed... a few hundred people max) group isn't going to help because those award winners are going to promote from within. They're not going to respect merit. In fact, it's not efficient to respect merit. It's cheaper just to promote from within regardless of the mediocrity of the submissions of those people.

So I fear a dismal future... I fear there's no way to survive as a hater. I think that's kinda sad. Players like to write history in favor of the players... They sponsor programs to turn young children into players...

So is there any room for haters out there? Are haters doomed?

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Let's make fun of the Truman scholars

In the spirit of the Who's Who of 25 Year Olds, it's time for a post about the two OSU Truman finalists, Yoonhee Ha and Dave Knapp.

Really all the good quotes belong to Dave Knapp...
"My goals are to receive my Ph.D. in economics and eventually develop a successful model for making economic development profitable so that it can be expanded on a global level and make economic development more worthwhile for countries and companies," Knapp said in an e-mail.

"I have always had a passion for working with groups of people to help them operate better together, an idea which is remarkably similar to that of economic development, except that economic development is on a larger scale."

Is there a synonym for "economic development"?

Imagine what the essays he wrote for the scholarship must have been like! If you use the same two words over and over again, does each instance factor into your total word count?

Additionally, what does it mean to make "economic development profitable"? Is that really a challenge?

It's somehow incongruous (ironic, even?) that the guy with the most normal sounding name has the most trouble forming an English sentence.

Later on it is revealed...
"I am most proud of my work with Circle K," Knapp said. "In Ohio State Circle K, there are true, lasting friendships that mean a lot more than just simply a weekly meeting. It is a great group of people that I am proud to give my time and effort to."

Isn't Circle K the convenience store featured in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?

I know lots of people who are overly proud of their work in service groups and tend to prop up other service groups just for reciprocity (so that other people can prop up their group), and not even they have anything good to say about Circle K.

You see, Circle K actually was once "Circle Jerk," a group advertised in men's restrooms, until someone cleaning the restroom tried to erase it and only could get rid of the "Jer." Ever since then, we've had "Circle K."

I don't have much to say about Yoonhee Ha. She did have a strange quote...
Ha's goal is to serve less fortunate areas of the world medically; her motivation stems from personal experiences.

"When I was in the third grade, my younger sister Jeehee was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer," she said. "My family and I thank God for saving her life, and it was during those early years that I spent a lot of time in different hospitals and saw that physicians could make a difference in other people's lives."

While I'm happy to hear that her sister survived the cancer, I am puzzled by the juxtaposition of gratitude to God and as a drive to work in medicine. Was it God that cured the sister? Or was it the medicine? Can you have it both ways? What if it goes the other way and someone dies due to a rare disease? Did God let the person down? Or was it the lack of medicine?

Ha was the one who ended up winning a Truman scholarship. I think it's pretty clear that she fits the part better than Knapp.

So congratulations to them. Hopefully they actually do something with their support, unlike Melanie Wood and Reid Barton (see Who's Who of 25 Year Olds).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Who's Who of 25 Year Olds

Does Melanie Wood really deserve a Wikipedia page about herself?

It surprises me how many revisions have been made to this tiny little page about this tiny little person!

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

AMAZING Trivia FACTS for 2006!

Speaking of calendars, last Christmas, my sister got me a 365 MENSA Brain Puzzlers Page-a-Day Calendar for 2006. It came with a registration that allowed me to get a free on-line calendar that sends me a new page every day. I chose the on-line version of the 365 Amazing Trivia Facts for 2006, so every day it e-mails me a new "trivia fact."

(well, the e-mail contains a tiny trivia fact and fills the rest of the e-mail with lots of advertisements. This was annoying, so I wrote a script on my mail server to strip out everything in the e-mail except the trivia. I'm pretty proud of that)

Today's AMAZING trivia FACT?
Question: In Cockney rhyming slang, what’s a Wyatt Earp? How about a Raquel Welch?

Answer: An Earp is a burp; a Welch, a belch.

Well, now my life feels complete.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Google (insert word here)

Yes, if you haven't heard, Google is headed for world domination. I guess that's better than Microsoft, right? It'll sure suck when the government buys them.

The newest Google tool: Google Calendar

It's a neat tool. You can input your calendar in it or you can import existing calendars. Its importer tool supports ICS calendars (a standard format used by iCal, Mozilla, and others) as well as CSV calendars (a format you can export your MS Outlook calendars to).

What's also special about it is that you can subscribe to existing calendars. For example, there are calendars of holidays that you can subscribe to to add those holidays to your calendar without you having to do anything. Additionally, when someone updates these calendars, they get updated on your calendar automagically. (IN FACT, you can even SUBSCRIBE to existing on-line ICS calendars! That's probably one of the coolest features for geeky iCal folk)

Similar things have been done with the ICS calendar tools since they include calendar subscriptions. iCalShare is one example of a site that lets people advertise calendars that others can subscribe to.

This calendar subscription idea can be useful for scheduling group meetings too. Imagine you have a group of people who need to meet weekly and you want to figure out a good time for everyone. If they all have calendars in Google, you can subscribe to all of their calendars and view them all on one page to find good spots. A long time ago, I built a tool to do exactly this:

Meeting Schedule Generator

You don't put your whole schedule into my tool. You just put a general weekly schedule. Additionally, you subscribe to calendar groups owned by other people. That way you effectively "export" your calendar to other people.

Really all of these tools are trickle-down ideas from groupware ideas that have been around for a long time. As groupware technology becomes more accessible, we'll see more and more of this.

Power-Pop for Spring?

NPR's "Song of the Day" by Stephen Thompson: Power-Pop 'Oxygen' for a Spring Day

It's "Tearing Up the Oxygen" by Maritime (album: We, the Vehicles).
Two members of The Promise Ring went on to form Maritime, which released an appealing but uneven debut album in 2004 -- and which takes a quantum leap forward on We, the Vehicles, a sweetly buzzing collection of ingratiating power-pop. Springtime anthems don't get much catchier than "Tearing Up the Oxygen," a wonderfully sunny gem propelled by bleeping synths and "ah-ah" choruses.

It's really nice to see members of an emo band ("The Promise Ring" -- what an awful name!) grow up and decide to start a real band ("Maritime" -- much better). Good for them! It gives me hope, really, for world peace.

Foy Vance, Billy Jean, and American Idol

Foy Vance once did a live cover of "Billie Jean". You can find it on Indiscriminate Act of Kindness (which is also known as Live Sessions & the Birth of the Toilet Tour in the UK).

This cover is really slow. It takes a while to realize it's actually a cover of "Billie Jean" because it's just so different. I like it though.

Anyway, it may be too slow, but I think someone (Taylor? Chris?) on American Idol could pull it off. I don't know if you could easily trim it down to the minute they give them... So maybe it's a bad idea all around. However, I think if someone did pull it off it could be as well-received as the version of "I Walk the Line" that Chris did (originally a cover by Live).

Chocolate Bunnies for Easter


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dumb and Dumber: United 93 and World Trade Center

First of all, I think it's more than a little evil that United 93 is taking advantage of the release of the Flight 93 recorder types to promote the movie. Personally, I think the juxtaposition of the Flight 93 tapes with the release of United 93 emphasizes that United 93 is completely ficticious.

Movies about 9/11 make me feel physically sick. They just seem like that bad of an idea. They aim to profit from the event. They do not somehow educate the public. They do not remind people of a long-ago tragedy that they have forgotten or never knew about. They simply poke at only recently healed wounds (and that's optimistic) in order to make a few bucks.

Apparently there are more coming. World Trade Center will come out this summer. It's about two cops that get rescued. Apparently this one has a "happy ending." Whereas United 93 has no hope for a happy ending, World Trade Center lets you live through the entire event again AND come out feeling good about the ending!

Apparently there are made-for-TV movies too. Flight 93 and Let's Roll: The Story of Flight 93. The title for that second one seems extremely inappropriate. I like the graphic for the first one:

Farmer Bob apparently gets to watch the plane hit. It almost looks like it's trying to be a comedy!

I hope this doesn't mean I hate America or something like that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Century Creepy-One

On today's Day to Day on NPR, there was a great segment discussing that nasty new Century 21 commercial with the wife who teams up with her Century 21 agent to bully her husband into buying a house that they cannot afford. The audio of the segment will be available a little later today:

Slate's Ad Report Card: The Century 21 Harpy

However, you can just read it at directly:

The Nastiest Wife on Television: An odd new ad from Century 21.

He has a link in the article to a video of the commercial, but it looks like the video has been removed. I found it on YouTube, but it doesn't seem to be loading there either.

Anyway, I completely agree with his review of the ad. It's creepy! I don't think that's just because I'm a man either. It would be equally as creepy if two men (husband and agent) were pushing the house choice on the wife.

I don't know what Century 21 is trying to advertise here. "Does your spouse say no? Need someone else on your side? We'll be happy to say yes!" It just doesn't make any sense.

PLUS, the commercial just makes me feel queasy after it. It's one of those awkward moments that you do not want to capture on film. If that was real life, I would want out of there as quickly as possible. In fact, it ranks right up there with that VW commercial where the women are making fun of the men for crying during the movie and as the VW crosses the intersection it gets hammered by a truck on the driver side. It's gut wrenching! Watching the Century 21 commercial is just as bad... However, I think the VW commercial WANTS you to feel bad (though I think that's a bad commercial too). I have no idea what Century 21 wants you to feel after this commercial.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Attn: Young Women Interested in CS

The Best of Our Knowledge is a nationally run program on NPR. A recent episode discussed the "Gidget Pipeline Project" here at OSU (The Ohio State University). The audio program is available on-line.

The Best of Our Knowledge #812

The Gidget Pipeline Project recommends educating girls to be designers, not just users. It says educators and parents should help girls imagine themselves early in life as creators and producers of new technology. Pamela Haag, the AAUW Educational Foundation's Director of Research says, To get girls under the hood' of technology, they need to see that it gets them where they want to go. Mary Thorn, of the National Council for Research on Women believes, The need for mentors and networking for girls and women begins at the primary school level... And so, the past few years, volunteers from Ohio State University's Women in Technology group...and OSU's TWICE (The Women in Computer Engineering) program, have been running an after school technology club for girls. It's generating a curriculum for others to be able to duplicate the after school technology experience. And though it's still early, the club reports a remarkably high retention rate of 80%, or 8 out of 10 girls completing the full year program. TBOOK visits this unique program in Columbus, Ohio to speak with faculty and students. Sandra Sleight-Brennan reports. (12:47)

**(Attention Program Directors. For more details about this popular Gidget Pipeline Project, listeners should log on to:

Also, if listeners would like to hear more stories like this one from our exclusive radio series on STEM, just visit our special website:**

From The Gidget Pipeline Project's rationale page,
Annual Degrees and Job Openings
As you can see, there is apparently a major demand for CS jobs.

Friday, April 07, 2006


So this is new... Another crazy Google mashup...


Personal Maps Emerge as Visual Mixtape
For some people, hearing a particular song immediately conjurs up thoughts of an old boyfriend or girlfriend. For others, it's a place -- a park, a street corner or restaurant. So instead of making mix tapes, they're making personal maps, using the friendly technology Google uses for its mapping feature. At, a new website founded by "psychogeography hobbyists," the result is something like Wikipedia crossed with Rand McNally. Hundreds of "platial explorers" are contributing maps that trace everything from their first heartbreak to good birding spots. Venture capitalists like it too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

You had sex with Jessica Cutler! Get over it! Move on!

Judge OKs case against sex blog author
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge on Wednesday allowed a lawsuit to proceed against Jessica Cutler, the former Senate aide who posted details of her sex life on the Internet.

I just don't understand this. During her stint as an intern/staffer/something for Senator Mike DeWine, Jessica Cutler was paid (though not always) by Robert Steinbuch (and others) to have sex with him (and them). During her adventures, she would post details about the sex anonymously on The Washingtonienne. She would not mention her name, nor would she mention the names of her partners. She did mention one partner as simply "RS."

Eventually her blog got popular and another Washington blogger exposed her activities and she got fired from her big internship.

Well, apparently "RS" was Robert Steinbuch. He said some pretty silly stuff after sex. From her blog...
"That means it's your birthday." And he pulls out this pink and green package, and I just know it's a new Lilly dress.

And it was. Then we fucked missionary. And he came. With a condom on.

Then he was like, "Who the hell comes missionary anymore?!"

Is that the quote of the day or what?

So that's what happened. Do you see anything illegal here? I don't. She's anonymous AND she's telling the TRUTH. Sure it was a private moment, but it was HER private moment as well. I don't think she did anything wrong here.

(oh, and Steinbuch waited way too long to say anything about this anyway; I think he just wants money from her now that she's got all of this popularity and has written a book and everything)

So I think this thing is all pretty dumb, and I'm upset that he'll get his day in court. I just hope he loses. A loss is the only thing that makes sense.

Hicks: Coming to east coast towns near you!

Pregnant woman beaten at baby shower
Police: Fight escalated over whether woman gave 5-year-old beer

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) -- An argument at a baby shower escalated into a brawl in which one man was shot and the pregnant guest of honor was beaten with a stick, police said.

April is SDF awareness month

I got this from one of the guys in e-mail.
Here are some ideas to think about during SDF awareness month 2006.
(Please note, I never announce this on April 1st, it is no joke).

1. Go to your local community colleges or universities and post a print out of in the student union building or other bulletin board locations/information kiosks around campus. Coffee shops that offer wifi and also have community bulletin boards are also an ideal place for SDF flyers. (If you do this, please respond to the 'locations posted' bboard thread)

2. Tell a friend or friends about SDF and what you like about it. Find out what they might be interested in, or show them around.*

3. Tutor a younger person (niece, nephew, brother or sister) on how to use SDF.*

4. Purchase a sticker lot (20 stickers for $10 shipped to you in the US, or $15 if you are outside of the USA) to give to friends.**

5. Purchase a compilation CD lot (10 CDs, of either comps I, II or III for $45 shipped to you in the USA or $52 if you are outside of the USA) to give to your friends.**

*ARPA members may validated friends and family during the month of April by emailing me user ids directly.

**Lots are only available, for the time being, through April. (Also, III is pending release, and should arrive before April 15th).

Thanks guys and be sure to tell us where you put up flyers!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Windows on a Mac

Well, it happened. I always figured there'd be a quick hack to do it (and there is), but Apple decided to give an official hack:

Apple Helps you Install Windows on a Mac

So now you can buy Apple hardware (like one of the new MacBook Pro or one of the new iMacs) with OS X installed on it and then use this Apple program to VERY SIMPLY install Windows on a second partition. You can then choose whether to boot into OS X or Windows. It's just that easy. See Apple's web pages:
It's a free download. It's called "boot camp," and there are lots of sites on the web that can help you with it.

So now if you like Apple hardware but want the freedom to run Windows too, you have the option available to you. Get a Mac with a really big hard drive (all of them have 3-digit-plus GB hard drives) and put Windows on it. Voila!

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Apple Mail users: Stop forgetting to attach files!

This tip came out recently. I think you'll like it, if you're an Apple Mail user. (if you're not, then ask your developer of choice to do something similar for your client)

Plugin to scan for missing attachments

Here's the idea. The plugin looks through your outgoing mail for messages that refer to "attachment" or "attachments" or other similar things. If it finds such a message that does *NOT* have anything attached, it pops up a warning. The idea is that if you forget to attach something to a message and you meant to, it'll keep from delivering the message until you fix the problem.

It's a very clever idea.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

One, two, three, four, five, six!

I just received this e-mail...
On Wednesday, April 5, 2006, at two minutes and

three seconds after 1:00, AM & PM, the time and date will be:

01:02:03 04-05-06

This won't ever happen again in our lifetimes!

Please file under “Nice to know but useless information.”

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She don't use jelly

Check it out. CNN wrote an article about Flaming Lips.

The weirdest popular band around

I guess this is because of the new album. I guess they're probably pretty popular by now.

Seriously, I feel a little sad and disappointed that there is a CNN article about them. There was something nice about them only having a cult following. (things may have gotten out of hand starting with Yoshimi)

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