Tommyjournal  archive    February 2005

Monday  02.21.05

From a transcript of President Bush's speech in Brussels:
You know, on this journey to Europe, I follow in some large footsteps. More than two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin arrived on this continent to great acclaim.

An observer wrote, His reputation was more universal than Liebniz [sic] or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire, and his character more beloved and esteemed than any or all of them.

The observer went on to say, There was scarcely a peasant or citizen who did not consider him as a friend to humankind.

I've been hoping for a similar reception.

Call me a partisan curmudgeon, but I don't find this characteristically Republican-smarmy joke to be particularly funny.

And yes, he pronounced Leibniz as if it were Liebniz. Kudos to the transcribers for not correcting his fuckup.

Friday  02.18.05

From a Dell catalog I got in today's mail:
We often quote speeds and other performance data (such as printer speed, 56K modems or processor speeds). Please note that these quotes are for comparative purposes only. Actual speed varies with environment, equipment and other factors, and will be less.
In other words:  Dude, you're getting a sell.

Wednesday  02.16.05

Earlier this month, I wrote about dreams I'd had, dreams about things I miss, things that aren't available where I live.

What is available here (among other things) is natural beauty that never fails to stir me. I spent the afternoon today here:

Death Valley dunes
          Sand dunes, Death Valley; from a USGS photo.

Friday  02.11.05

The Gender Genie applies a primitive algorithm to guess whether a piece of (English) text was written by a male or a female. Don't worry; the genie's host doesn't take it too seriously.

You give it a piece of text, check a genre box (fiction, nonfiction, or blog entry--cute, how blog entry is neither of the above) and click on submit. (There is no "dominate" button to go along with the "submit" button.)

Upon considering a few sample Tommyjournal texts, the genie said I'm male, not that you should place much weight on that; the stats say the genie is correct only about 60% of the time.

Thursday  02.10.05

This Tuesday, Virginia's House voted 64-30 to outlaw wearing pants low enough to show your undies. From a Virginia newspaper:
Students at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg were talking about the legislation yesterday.

"I think it's pretty bogus, definitely," said 15-year-old Kealan Sojack, a freshman who was wearing baggy jeans.
And from the Washington Post:
"Underwear is called underwear for a reason," said Republican politician John Reid. "Most of us would identify this as the coarsening of society."
I hope this ends up in the courts. And I hope that in a news conference, someone asks the President about activist judges imposing their personal views about a right to show your underwear.

Tuesday  02.08.05

A beta version of Google maps is available. The good news: great user interface (e.g., pan by dragging Tuttle Creek Road with the mouse), nice looking graphics. The bad news: it doesn't work on some browsers. That seems to be a (disturbing) trend at Google; early versions of gmail didn't work with a number of browsers either.

Tuttle Creek Road My neighborhood is incorrectly represented on every mapping site I've tried, so I didn't expect Google to have perfect data for it. What surprised me, though, was how far off Google's database is. It looks like someone entered every path (or remnant thereof) that they could see in an Tuttle Creek Road aerial photo and assigned them names by who knows what method. Google thinks that pretty much every sketchy dirt road in one area is named Tuttle Creek Road. I love the way the text snakes around bends.

Google's route from my house to San Francisco uses a dirt road that you wouldn't want to take most cars on; can you guess what Google thinks it's called?
  • Head west from Thundercloud Ln - go 0.6 mi
  • Turn right at Tuttle Creek Rd - go 0.1 mi
  • Turn right and head toward Tuttle Creek Rd - go 0.3 mi
  • Bear right at Tuttle Creek Rd - go 1.9 mi
  • Continue toward Tuttle Creek Rd - go 0.2 mi
  • Continue on Tuttle Creek Rd - go 1.0 mi
  • ...
Why does this interest me, you ask. I've been writing routing software for a living for the past 20 years. Not street routing, but rather electronic circuit routing--different in many ways, but both are at heart path finding (i.e., graph search) problems.

Monday  02.07.05

Yesterday (see below), I wrote
I wouldn't mind another dream that picks up where the last one left off. I'll see what I can do.
Be careful what you ask for.

After writing that, I went to sleep and had a dream that picked up where the previous one had left off. It continued with instance(s) of what I used to enjoy that I now miss, only this time more intensely and with more of a sense of frustration.

What can I say. I asked for it. I want to face the full truth about my situation. I have this (strange?) notion that the more conscious I am of what's going on in my life, the better.

Now, off to sleep again.

Sunday  02.06.05

YAJEAAD :  yet another journal entry about a dream

Interesting dream last night. I was at some kind of retreat or training that was held at a pleasant college-campus-like facility. For a while I was in a classroom, sitting in the back, and although I wasn't volunteering to answer any questions I did try to say something intelligent when the instructor called on me. But my heart wasn't really in the process.

I said something about how powerful habits can be. The instructor asked me to elaborate, and I said that it's easier to get stuck in habits if you spend a lot of time in association with people who also run on automatic most of the time.

The instructor spoke to me one-on-one after class, and asked whether I had Ouspensky's teachings in mind when I spoke about habits. I said yeah but added that I didn't agree with Ouspensky's views on immortality.

We walked past a recreation room and I saw people playing foosball and remembered a job I had some 15 years ago where I played a fair amount of foosball. I realized I missed certain kinds of interaction with people. That was the moment of the dream that really got my attention, it made me think, and it made me want to write about it.

Just how social a creature I want to be has been a tough question at various points in my life. I was fairly well adapted to doing things on my own as a teenager (largely out of necessity). I spend a lot of time by myself again now, sometimes readily and sometimes not. I'm not as cut out for the independent life as some people are, there are things that I miss living here in the desert. That longing really came to the fore in last night's dream.

When I moved to the desert seven years ago, one of my goals was to live more deliberately. Without so many distractions, I'd be more aware of what choices I made and would learn to be more mindful--at least, that was the plan. Did I do what I set out to do? Honestly, not as well as I had hoped for. But falling short in some areas has been balanced, sort of, by experiences that I hadn't expected. Not a bad outcome overall.

For better or worse, I'm largely settled here. City life is not what I want right now, last night's dream notwithstanding.

I wouldn't mind another dream that picks up where the last one left off. I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday  02.02.05

A credit card statement came in the mail today, along with the usual bunch of checks to induce me to pay finance charges on cash advances. What was new this time was the exhortation
Enjoy the enclosed checks.
which reminded me of something Salvador Dali wrote:
I'm surprised that a bank teller doesn't eat a check.
Much as I hate to disappoint a credit card company, my diet doesn't allow for enjoying their checks. I gave them to my shredder instead, which devoured them con gusto.

But really, I'm just using this as an excuse to quote Dali, so much fun that I'll do it again--
All those aerodynamic, gelatinous, dented cars with super-smooth curves, massive salivary anatomy, fleshy thighs, and flabby stomachs of the 'Modern-Style-Mae-West' type, all those aerodynamic and atmospheric cars with fat, compressed, exuberant, and sticky viscera are nothing else -- and this is what Salvador Dali tells you and guarantees -- but real 'blackheads' that pop out, all slippery, solemn, atmospheric, and apotheosic from the very nose of space, the very meat of space.

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