Strange Musings *hyuk*
Thursday, June 30, 2005
  8:49 PM — Banners!
Look, I made more pretty banners! They're originally for Blog Explosion, but if you feel like sticking one somewhere the sun doesn't shine (your computer screen, duh!) feel free.

Life is Strange, but sometimes it gives you pretty pictures.  Come see life from my point of view!

Life is Strange, but sometimes it gives you pretty pictures.  Come see life from my point of view!

Life is Strange, but sometimes it gives you pretty pictures.  Come see life from my point of view!

Life is Strange, but sometimes it gives you pretty pictures.  Come see life from my point of view!

  8:01 PM — Text Decorations?
I'm working on a new blog template from scratch--anyone who knows me should know that I like playing with html, and now I'm slowly learning CSS. Does anyone know if there's an easy way to do shadows or outlined text? I found some php code that can change background images in my header for me on each load (requires images and the php file be hosted together on a server), but the problem with that is that sometimes my white header text doesn't show up on the image background (as any watcher of subbed anime or foreign flicks would know). I'll keep Googling, but so far I haven't found much.

  10:56 AM — BBC Report on Homosexual Marriage
The BBC has a really in-depth analysis of the arguments and issues involved with homosexual marriage. Put aside at least a half hour to read through it. Third page is a really cutting blow to the arguments against it. Compared with the analysis of the arguments for, it's clear to me that those who wrote this article support gay marriage. Contradictions to the "against" arguments are stated as facts, while contradictions to the "for" arguments described "opponents argue".

  10:27 AM — Chocolate Cookie Sushi
Whatever genius thought of this should become a billinonaire! When I first saw a picture of this sushi, I found myself thinking the colors looked a slight bit off, like it wasn't the highest quality sushi. Then as I continued reading the blog, I realized it wasn't poor quality raw fish, it was high quality chocolate! You can even buy them online and send them to someone. (HINT HINT)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
  11:01 PM — MIT Blog Survey
If you have time to kill, go take this MIT survey on blogs. It's gonna be someone's PhD Thesis. I have to say I expect it'll be a biased sample due to the solicitation method, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

  6:43 PM — New Banner!

Come share my view of the bizzare world!  Strange Musings

I've made a new banner! This one was from when I visited the Arc d'Triomphe (spelled wrong I'm sure) in Paris, Nov 2003. Can you believe I got to go there for free on a research trip? I've totally forgotten the name of the outlying city pictured at the right, with the mirroring modern arch. Can anyone remind me?

  1:11 PM — Google Earth
Now this is one program I have to plug: Google Earth does everything that Google Maps did and then some.

For example, it shows the house I currently live in with sufficient detail to make out the cars in the parking spots! Not sure what year this satellite image was taken, but that's definitely not my car.

It also does a good job of showing Puffer's Pond, which apparently is officially called Factory Hollow Pond.

However, it's not quite as good in Pennsylvania, where I'll be for a few weeks soon.

The interface is really smooth and intuitive, but I highly recommend a fast computer and faster internet connection. The directions interface is pretty cool too. It zooms out to show the whole route, and when you click on one part of it, it zooms in and "tilts" (distorts, transforms, whatever) the map so it looks like you're actually travelling in the appropriate direction. When you double click on the next step it zooms out along the route and over to the next instructions you need to take. Man, it's sexy!

I guess one good thing about being stuck on my PC is this program, as they don't yet have a Mac version. :-P

  11:19 AM — Heretics!
Surfing the web, I actually learned something today.

Galileo wasn't the only one tried and found guilty by the Inquisition for believing in the heliocentric (Copernican) universe. Giordano Bruno was a contemporary of Galileo, and was primarily a philosopher, but also believed in heliocentrism. Additionally though, he believed that Jesus never had a physical body and all people who thought they saw him during his lifetime instead were experiencing visions. That, of course, was the more heretical of his beliefs, but either one could've led to his eventual burning at the stake with a bag of gunpowder tied around his neck (that was a mercy, so he'd be decapitated before he was burnt or suffocated to death). Galileo himself would've faced death if he hadn't recanted his beliefs. Instead he only got house arrest, which was the equivalent of life imprisonment without parole.

For both, Pope John Paul II eventually apologized for the church's actions. It's not clear to me whether he exonerated them (that is, said they weren't guilty of heresy) and admitted that the solar system is indeed heliocentric. Other things Pope John Paul II apologized for were the crusades, burning Protestants at the stake, the Crusades, missionaries, and the Holocaust. I admittedly gloss over the details of some of those in the name of humor.

Guess the Church is fallable after all. What's next, premarital sex, birth control, abortion, or stem cells? I guess there aren't any prominent figures who've been excommunicated, put under house arrest, or burned at the stake for these, so maybe we'll never get an apology.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
  11:04 PM — Freedom?
This is totally bizzare to me. Someone's opened a Cafepress store to sell anti ACLU merchandise. One of the sets of items has the description "LET FREEDOM RING! and it will ring much louder when the ACLU is gone!"


There's a complete disconnect there. Kinda like how in the fall one of my final exam questions was to compare and contrast the geocentric and heliocentric models of the solar system and one student simply threw out all the keywords she could brainstorm. Man, I shouldn't've recycled those, they're priceless! :-P

  5:52 PM — Get Rich Quick Scheme-of-the-Day
Shutterstock is the GRQSD (pronounced "grossed"): stock photos. You upload photos, other people download them for various professional purposes, and you get paid at least 20c each. I've certainly got enough photos, though they're mostly NOT the cheesy stuff you see in the Top 100 list. Plus most of my photos are currently lost on my laptop, so I doubt I'll be making any money off this. But we'll see. I'll keep you updated if I ever get a cent.

These sorts of things remind me of that one in the late 90's where they'd pay you to keep an ad toolbar open in your browser. I did get a few checks for twenty bucks before too many people hacked the requirement for the mouse to keep moving and they went under.

I appear incapable of spelling "Get Rich Quick" the first time around. This title read "Get Rick Quick" for some 18 hours before I noticed it, and I often type "Get Rich Wuick" or "Teg Rich Quick" and other variations.

  5:09 PM — Pictures

  1. NYC pictures are going to have to wait even longer than my lazy ass was dictating. I couldn't fit them all onto my USB drive so I don't have a backup of them while my iBook is being sent out for repairs. Here's hoping they don't fuck up the hard drive!

  2. Smileys!Speaking of the iBook, my DHL shipping package arrived today. I wrapped it up with love and care (but without the kiss for goodluck, everything's too icky sticky for that) and the enclosed tape. The directions on how to pack it were illustrated with photos and smiley faces. Older (and less cute) versions of the directions are available online.

  3. And speaking of cute things, look: it's Peeper! <grin> I took her outside for a half hour last week (before the torrential downpours of this past weekend). I want to do so a few times before I leave for CTY in the hopes that she'll get more used to going new places. We live right off a major street right now, but there's a big empty grassy park behind the house, so I carried her in her carry cage out to the middle of the park (away from trees, fences, telephone poles, kids, and dogs) and then let her out where it was relatively safe. Sunlight does us both good! Half hour was too short for her to get totally comfortable, but she wasn't freaking anymore by the time we left. She was likely more unnerved by being in the travel cage than being outside, but I didn't think it was safe to have her out near a busy street.


  10:54 AM — All I have to do is dream
I realized recently that I've had three major dreams in my life: to drive a car, to be a teacher, and to own a house. Meatloaf may think two out of three ain't bad, but I'm shooting for all of them.

Monday, June 27, 2005
  10:14 PM — *hyuk*
Yay, I'm not stupid! I'm so glad this test told me. :)

The Stupid Quiz said I am "Pretty Smart!" How stupid are you? Click here to find out!

  8:30 PM — Theoretical Raise
Too bad raises never really happen in Massachusetts. The MCCC bargining committee and the BHE (Board of Higher Ed) have come to a tentative agreement (aka contract propsal) that would result in a four thousand dollar raise for me (after working through a series of worksheets). $4.3k spread out over 12 months amounts to some $360 per month. Added to my $600/month rent makes nearly $1k/month that I could then spend on a mortgage!

But like I said, this won't happen. The contract in question would be for the 2003-2006 fiscal years (FY's go from June 1, so in effect it's the same as the academic year, AY, which I say goes from Sept 1). Governor Romney hasn't even submitted, let alone approved, our contract for 1999-2003.

This man wants to run for the Republican slate (president) in 2008. This man is the reason I am living in a one-bedroom apartment in a near-ghetto. A full-time faculty member shouldn't have to live like this. A respected professional shouldn't have to consider taking on a roommate just to pay for car repairs.

  7:03 PM — Battle Pope
Battle Pope, and his trusty sidekick Jesus!

Yes, that does say what you think it says.

When he's not leadin' mass, he's out kickin' ass! After the Rapture the sole protector of the sinning masses is BATTLE POPE, and his trusty sidekick, Jesus. They're the last line of defense in a world overrun with demons and depravity.

art & cover by TONY MOORE


There's around 6 sample pages, and I can't wait until the collected graphic novel gets published in a year or two more.

  12:22 PM — Evolution vs. Adaptation
What's the difference in some people's minds between evolution and adaptation? They say they can understand the concept of a creature adapting to fit its environment. I've never heard a single person argue against survival of the fittest. And yet, when you put the two together you get evolution and everyone's up in arms about that.

I suspect it's more a matter of the implications in the PAST that bothers people, rather than implications for the future. I doubt creationists disbelieve antibiotic resistant bacteria. I haven't heard Intelligent Design proponents argue that we should not invest time and money in a flu vaccine for when the Avian Flu mutuates to human transmission. Why aren't they picketting outside the CDC, in addition to schools?

I feel like they're picking and choosing their battles. "One plus one equals two when I get my biweekly paycheck, but not when I'm making credit card payments."

  12:09 PM — What Sex is Your Brain?
The BBC test linked above takes something like a half hour, but it's pretty comprehensive. Test various spatial, verbal, and emotional aspects of your personality.

I scored exactly between male and female, but part of my test didn't work for me (typing in words, probably a Safari thing), so I think I would've scored slightly more female. I did surprisingly crappy with the angles task, but perfectly in rotating 3-D shapes. No wonder I love maps! *grin*

A few of the things supposedly depended upon your testosterone levels, and those I scored at the far end of having no testosterone whatsoever! I wouldn't be surprised if that varies monthly with women (they said it varies yearly in men), though I think estrogen is the main thing that changes.

After retaking the test, my results are as follows. I think I improved everything, especially the words since that wasn't working last time! :-P Anyone else think most of those faces are fugly? My fingers measured a different length this time around...

50 Female

Part 1

This task tested your ability to identify the angle of a line by matching it with its twin. This is a spatial task, which looks at how you picture space.

Your score: 11 out of 20
Average score for men: 15.1 out of 20
Average score for women: 13.3 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 12: You have more of a female brain. Scientists believe that people with a female brain find it more difficult to judge the slope of a line because they're not wired for spatial tasks. In past studies, 65 per cent of people who scored in this range were women.

If you scored 13 - 17: You found this test neither hard nor easy. This suggests your brain has male and female traits when it comes to spatial ability.

If you scored 18 - 20: You have more of a male brain. On average, men outperform women in this task and those with more mathematical knowledge tend to score quite high as well. In past studies, 60 per cent of the people in this range were men.

Interestingly, men's testosterone levels fluctuate through the seasons and studies have shown that men's scores are lower in the spring, when their testosterone levels are at their lowest.

Do our cave dwelling ancestors offer us any clues about why men and women score differently on this task? Find out more.

Spot the difference
This task tested your ability to identify which objects changed position. You lost points, if you incorrectly identified objects.

Your score: 86%
Average score for men: 39%
Average score for women: 46%

What does your score suggest?

If you scored between 0 - 33%: You may have more of a male brain. Scientists say men tend to under perform in this task. The corpus callosum, the part of the brain that links the right and left hemispheres, is a fifth larger in women. This means women can process visual and other signals at the same time more easily than men. There is also a theory that oestrogen levels in women give them an added advantage in spatial memory.

If you scored between 34 - 66%: You may have a balanced female-male brain.

If you scored between 67 - 100%: Those with a female-type brain generally score in this range. Your ability to remember where objects are may serve as an advantage to you when you're trying to find your way around places. You're more capable of recalling landmarks to get from one place to another.

Find out more about our spatial abilities.

Part 2


You said your left thumb was on top when you clasped your hands together.

Right thumb on top: This suggests the left half of your brain is dominant. Many studies have tried to establish whether there is a relationship between handedness and brain dominance. Some scientists believe that if you are left brain dominant, you would be more verbal and analytical.

Left thumb on top: This suggests the right half of your brain is dominant. Some studies theorise that as a right brain dominant person, you may excel in visual, spatial and intuitive processes.

However, these theories are debatable and leave much to be said about the small percentage of people who are ambidextrous.

Find out why right-brained people may be better fighters and artists.

Part 3

Emotions and Systems
This task looked at whether you prefer to empathise or systemise.


Your empathy score is: 7 out of 20
Average score for men: 7.9 out of 20
Average score for women: 10.6 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Empathisers are better at accurately judging other people's emotions and responding appropriately. If you scored 15 and above, you are very empathic and would be an ideal person to comfort people in a time of crisis. Women in general are better at empathising.


Your systemising score is: 11 out of 20
Average score for men: 12.5 out of 20
Average score for women: 8.0 out of 20

What does your result suggest?

Systemisers prefer to investigate how systems work. A system can be a road map, flat pack furniture, or a mathematical equation – anything that follows a set of rules. A score of 15 and above suggests you're good at analysing or building systems. Men in general are better at systemising.

Scientists are keen to learn more about people who score high or low on both tests. They want to find out whether or not empathising and systemising are linked. Is a possible to make yourself more empathic?

Some scientists claim that our empathy and systemising abilities can be traced all the way back to prehistoric times. Find out more.

This task tested your ability to judge people's emotions.

Your score: 8 out of 10
Average score for men: 6.6 out of 10
Average score for women: 6.6 out of 10

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 3: Do you think you're good at judging how another person is feeling? Your score suggests this doesn't come to you quite so naturally.

If you scored 4 - 6: Your result suggests you have a balanced female-male brain and find it neither easy nor difficult to judge people's emotions.

If you scored 7 - 10: Your result suggests you are a good empathiser, sensitive to other people's emotions. Women generally fall into this category.

Professor Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge says that people usually perform better than they expect to on this test.

Men often think a person's eyes are sending signals of desire when that's not the case at all. Find out more.

Part 4

We asked you to measure your ring and index fingers. Your ratios came to:

Right Hand: 0.97
Left Hand: 0.97

Average ratio for men: 0.982
Average ratio for women: 0.991
It's thought that your ratio is governed by the amount of testosterone you were exposed to in your mother's womb. The ratio of the length of your index finger to the length of your ring finger is set for life by as early as three months after conception. Even during puberty, when we experience intensive hormonal changes, the ratio stays the same.

Men generally have a ring finger that is longer than their index finger, which gives them a lower ratio than women, whose ring and index fingers are usually of equal length.

Studies have found that men and women with lots of brothers generally have more masculine finger ratios. Find out what other things scientists think our ratios may tell us.

Part 5

This task looked at how you rate the attractiveness of a series of faces. The images you looked at were digitally altered to create slight differences in masculinity.

Your choices suggest you prefer more masculine faces.

Highly masculinised male faces possess more extreme testosterone markers such as a long, broad and lower jaw, as well as more pronounced brow ridges and cheekbones.

Interestingly, women's preferences are said to vary across the menstrual phase. A more masculine face is preferred during the 9 days prior to ovulation, when conception is most likely.

A typical 'attractive' female face possesses features such as a shorter, narrower, lower jaw, fuller lips and larger eyes than an average face.

Are you surprised at what researchers think they can learn from your answers? Find out more.

Part 6

3D shapes
This task tested your ability to mentally rotate 3D shapes.

Your score: 11 out of 12
Average score for men: 8.2 out of 12
Average score for women: 7.1 out of 12

What does your result suggest?

If you scored 0 - 6: Do you find yourself having to physically rotate a map to point in the direction in which you're travelling? This might explain why you scored in the lower range in the 3D shapes test. Twice as many women as men score in this category. Previous studies suggest that those with a female-type brain or with an arts background fall into this range.

If you scored 7 - 9: In past studies, 50 per cent of the people who scored in this range were women and 50 per cent were men.

If you scored 10 - 12: Are you an engineer or do you have a science background? People with these skills tend to score in this range. Past studies have concluded that people in this range have a more male brain.

Nearly a third of men who took this test got full marks, whereas less than 10 per cent of women managed the same. Find out why.

This task looked at your verbal fluency.

Your score: you associated 22 word(s) with grey and you named 12 word(s) that mean happy. We are assuming that all the words you entered are correct.

Average score for men: 11.4 words total
Average score for women: 12.4 words total

What does your result suggest?

If you produced 1 - 5 words: You are more of the strong, silent type with a male brain. You probably find it easier to express yourself in non-verbal ways, preferring action rather than words.

If you produced 6 - 10 words: Most people in this range have a female-type brain.

Women are said to use both sides of the brain when doing verbal tasks while men mainly use their left side. Studies have shown that girls develop vocabulary faster than boys. This difference in brain power is caused by levels of pre-natal testosterone. Find out more .

This task asked you how you would divide money.

If you had to split £50 with someone, you said you would demand £30

So far on the Sex ID test, men have demanded 51.6% (£25.80) of the pot and women have demanded 51.0% (£25.50), on average.

What does your response suggest?

Sex differences are small in this task. Demanding less than 60% of the pot (ie £30) is more typically female. Demanding more than 65% of the pot (ie £32.50) is more typically male.

Scientists believe that people with lower testosterone levels tend to take fewer risks so they are probably more willing to keep less for themselves. Those with higher testosterone levels tend to drive a harder bargain and are less compromising.

Men's testosterone levels fluctuate over the seasons and are at their lowest levels during the springtime. This is said to influence their bargaining power. Find out more about the role of testosterone.


  10:39 AM — Updated!
I've changed my layout and played around with the colors some. If anything stands out to you as disgusting, please do let me know. :-P

  9:45 AM — Layout
Now that I'm using my desktop full time (since the laptop is imminently being sent back for a new video card) I find myself wondering why didn't somebody tell me my layout is all fucked up in Intener Explorer? :-P You'd think a default Blogger layout wouldn't fuck up like that...

Sunday, June 26, 2005
  11:30 PM — Car!
All hail Meineke! My car's back, better than ever. Bob told me he changed the ignition, turn signal switch, and high beam switch; I noticed the whole turn signal stalk was changed; and he told me he took out all the ball bearings and repacked (cleaned and regreased them). Awesome! I'm not sure which part of that kept the steering column/wheel from jiggling, but it worked. Everything feels smoother than it ever was. Two thumbs up for this Meineke! (YMMV--Your Mileage May Vary)

I ended up getting it back Friday morning, so I didn't even need the ride to Amherst from my coworker. This of course, thwarted the concept of T$ and I visiting Boston (as my home is kinda halfway, making the car situation difficult), however I bludgeoned him into letting me buy him swim trunks for his birthday and we went swimming at Puffer's Pond a scant half hour before the skies opened up. Glad I wasn't driving at the time.

  4:41 PM — Severe Weather
I was sitting playing Mario Kart Double Dash with T$, when I realized the hot weather we'd gone swimming in a half hour ago had suddenly changed to a downpour that was coming in the window on me. We ran around the 6-BR house closing windows (except for the roommate's they don't like). We noticed that rain had come in J's window all over his stereo, posters, and then I noticed that his clock was flashing 12:00. Unfortunately, the power had skipped sometime during our mad dash, and our game was lost. But then I noticed the severe weather statement for Amherst:

This is a dangerous storm. If you are in its path... prepare immediately for damaging winds... destructive hail... and deadly cloud to ground lightning. People outside should move to a shelter... preferably inside a strong building but away from windows.

(National Weather Service, c/o

Holy shit! Mere, you freaking out about this? (And if so, in a good or bad way?)

Thursday, June 23, 2005
  10:10 PM — When it pisses, it shits
Even worse than "when it rains, it pours."

This evening I was surfing the web, diddling around on CNN and BlogExplosion as usual, thinking about taking a nap, when suddenly the screen flickers and freezes. As I watch with growing concern, lines form and start spreading horizontally across the screen. Wiggling my finger over the touchpad not only does not move the cursor on the screen, it draws attention to the fact that the edges of the screen are turning gray and spreading.

I remember thinking to myself the day before, that the hinge between the screen and the body of the laptop is the weak point in the system, but I restart to see what'll happen. Nothing. I mean, the screen goes blank as it should when I initiate the restart, it restarts, but the screen stays blank. I hear the hard drive whirring, when I hit the "volume-up" button I hear it make the noise it's supposed to, but the screen's blank. I restart a couple more times with no change. Getting ingenious, I find my monitor adapter and plug in the desktop's LCD screen. That also fails to do anything interesting.

The Apple Care phone number is on my computer. I could look it up online on the other computer. The serial number is on the laptop. But it's also on my Apple Care agreement plan, located in my secret place with all my other important documents (my sock drawer), as is the Apple Care number (800-APL-CARE), so I'm all set.

10 minutes on hold, and 15 minutes chatting with "Cassie" (the first female tech support agent I've "met," and one of the few without the least trace of Indian accent), and they're shipping me a box by Tuesday, taking up to 7 days to replace the video card, and then sending it back (signature required) to my workplace.

Probably less than two weeks, all at no charge to me, and in net, better than my car! Nearly all the material I recently worked on was duplicated in three places: the (now defunct) iBook, work computers, and my USB drive. To be on the safe side, I'm going to take the iBook in to work tomorrow (via bus) and over to T$'s for the weekend (via coworker who lives in Montague and commutes daily!) so I can mount my iBook as a HD on either my work Mac or one of his and pull off any additional material I need and get it onto my USB drive before I send the iBook off.

Moral of the story:

Most Apple laptops come with a few months of it, but you MUST extend it as long as the they'll let you (for around $250). T$ said fixing this would probably cost me around $1,000 without the Apple Care, so I'd be more likely to buy a new one instead if I didn't have it.

P.S. Check out this Apple battery recall.

  11:53 AM — Speaking of things that crack me up,

  11:28 AM — Pizza's Not For Breakfast
Linked from Something Positive (usually work-safe), the Pizza's Not For Breakfast video is hilariously demented (as is S*P). I get a kick out of running the last shot very slowly and watching his mouth move...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
  9:14 PM — Bussing
Since my car's been in the shop (8 days), I've taken the bus in to campus three times. Today the 1:00pm bus never came. I arrived 10 minutes early (12:50pm), and the bus arrived at 1:35pm. Which means that the 1pm never came, and the 1:30 was 5 minutes late. Strange...

Each time right before getting to campus, the bus passes by the Meinekie my car's at. Each time my car is in a different location. Interesting considering that the last time I saw the inside of the car there was a pair of locking pliers in the place of the steering wheel and they were telling me I couldn't have it back b/c that's how it was staying until the parts came in.

Speaking of which, the first part of the Tri-Force steering column rebuild kit came in today. Once we get all three and finish the quest of rebuilding it, I'll be severely disappointed if a Princess doesn't jump out of the fucking trunk when I go to pick it up.

  8:50 PM — Acceptance

Some asexuals have found it refreshing to come out as having no sexual attractions. They no longer have to fade into the background when sex comes into the conversation or fake sexual interest in order to fit in. They can be completely honest about who they are and what they feel.
--Asexual Visibility and Education Network

I ended up surfing over to this evening, and the above quote reminded me of talking sports. A few of my fellow grads back when I was a grad student LOVED talking about sports. I feel I made my disinterest and boredom pretty plain, though I hope not rudely, in the hopes that "I'd no longer have to fade into the background or fake interest in order to fit in." And I did fake interest for a while--you'd think if I were clearly ignorant and unable to participate in the conversation that politeness would necessitate explaining the content to me. Unofischal at least tried to do so, which I'm glad of, but I still got tired of the topic. You'd think they'd have something else to talk about, and I really don't think it's a gender issue, as many women are interested in sports, and men OR women should have at least a smidgeon of common courtesey. *fumes*

  5:58 PM — Nga Boo's Beef with Oyster Sauce
Nga Boo is my maternal grandmother. She was born in Shanghai in 1913 to an upper-class family. She had bound feet and broke an arranged marriage to marry my peasant Cantonese Nga Cone. They fled Mao's Communists in 1946 and she was forced to become a waitress and learn to cook from Nga Cone at a Chinese resturaunt they owned in New Jersey. Later, she became a high school gym teacher, beginning our family tradition of three generations of teachers.

This is the first thing I learned how to cook, and Nga Boo's lack of recipie is probably what inspired my own slap-dash style of cooking (when I bother to cook...).

Quantities are for one person. Vary according to taste and appetite.

Cut flank steak perpendicular to the grain into strips (<=1cm thick, 5cm long). Marinade overnight (if time allows) with half the oyster sauce and all the corn starch.

Dice yellow onion and put in frying pan on low/medium heat (no oil required) while slicing beef (if you didn't marinade overnight). Add beef and all other ingredients. Continue to cook on low/medium heat, stirring frequently or continually, for 5-20 minutes, or until beef is cooked but before it gets tough.

Serve with white or jasmine rice (prepared separately per normal instructions, 1/2 cup dry) and a stir fry vegetable. I recommend take either fresh green peas (in pod) or fresh asparagus (1-3 handfuls, raw, of either) and simmer in a pan with chicken soup stock until vegetable just turns bright green.

  11:55 AM — Hugs!
"Hugging feels good. Children's TV taught us that. I'd forgotten."
--Penny and Aggie (T. Campbell & G. Lagace)

"Oh Phillipe, oh Phillipe, you're a very special boy
Just like a bumble bee with your special kinda of glee.
When I'm sad -- HUGS!
Feeling blue --HUGS!"
--"Here Comes a Special Boy" (Freezepop)

  9:11 AM — I wonder who wrote this; Escaflowne dream

I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.

I interpret this as follows:

((I wonder why) (I wonder why)) (I wonder why (I wonder))
(I wonder why (I wonder why (I wonder why (I wonder))))

Not too sure why this popped into my head first thing in the morning. I'm also not sure why my last two dreams before waking were of describing Escaflowne (Fox version, original Japanese) to JT while standing in nighttime fog in London, and later visiting Anonymous Politician at the Mormon US Air Force Base. When I woke I could actually remember the words I used to describe Escaflowne. I think it was something like "a typical teenager gets transported into a fantasy world in the midst of civil war and proves crucial to its outcome," but in a few more sentences. It's an AWESOME series, I wish I had a copy. I originally came in in the middle of the Fox version on TV when I had free cable for a few months in Belchertown. When my cable got shut off, I borrowed the original Japanese from a friend, and it's much better. Besides the voices sounding less shrill, Fox cut various scenes to fit TV time which added a lot to the story.


  12:24 AM — Emily's Story
The Boston Globe has a series of articles I've started reading on a Harvard freshman math major who is legally blind from brain tumors. I've always wondered how a blind person could get along in physics, so I plan to read through these (they're lengthy) slowly.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
  11:31 PM — Quiz Time!
Borderline work-safe -- good thing half my friends who read this don't have internet at work!

Time for another quiz! Which Star Wars character are you? I must say I was totally shocked at my answer.

Unforunately, you have to go thru a slew of pop-ups to get to the quiz, but it's entertaining, including the Star Wars music in the background...

I'm also pretty good at detecting Urban Legend bullshit, which I'm not surprised about -- all that critical thinking shit is mad crazy whack, 'yo! There's many more quizzes, I'll be back.


Monday, June 20, 2005
  9:15 PM — Oops!
I discovered an interesting incompatability. After I added a second set of Google ads, for some reason they were showing in my Flickr badge, and the Flicker images were showing in the Google ads. Click the below images ("errors" circled in green) for larger versions. However, it's a browser issue rather than a coding issue since (as you hopefully see) it only appears to happen in Mozilla. I'm using Safari now and having no problems. Please leave a comment if you see it in another browser.

Flickr in Google

Google in Flickr

Speaking of images, yeah, I know I still owe you NYC pictures, but somehow this's so much more entertaining to me!

  1:14 PM — Literature Review
A pair of physicsts at the Max Planck Institute (a top physics research lab) in Germany have studied citations in physics papers. Most commonly authors reference papers three years older than their own, but the "half-life" of citations is around 10 years. Einstein is THE most cited physics author of all time, and his three most cited papers all have to do with Brownian motion (for which he won his Nobel Prize), and not relativity (E=mc2, for which he's famous with the public), nor the photoelectric effect (without which we'd have neither TVs nor digital cameras).

(Link found via APOD.)

  12:28 PM — Comparisons
A number of people have been comparing Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo with Nazi death camps or Soviet gulags. Many people have vehemently retorted that doing so is belittling the worse atrocities. My thought is it's merely a matter of degree. Two main arguments against the comparison are the numbers involved, and the innocence of the victims. Millions of people were killed in WWII; hundreds are in the US overseas prisons. WWII victims were innocent; US victims are innocent until proven guilty. Is it worse to torture and kill millions of known innocents, or a few individuals whom are not proven guilty? The whole reason these camps have to exist overseas is because if they were within our boundaries the prisoners would have the protection of the law.

Sunday, June 19, 2005
  11:12 PM — Which Side Are You On?
Music: Which Side Are You On? - Tom Juravich (ask me about the "goat lady" at the start); Dropkick Murphys
(a traditional/folk/protest song; both artists' versions available on iTunes, along with a few others)

I'd origionally written a bitchy post to put under this heading, until I read an email from my union pres stating that the bargaining committee and the BHE have tentatively agreed to a contract (for AY 2003-2006, I believe) that would "increase the minimum salary by 75% which provides the promised market update." No wonder they're trying to keep this under wraps -- if Romney saw that even tenured professors don't understand the concept of decimal points, he'd certainly have the right to wonder why he's spending so much money on us.

Seriously, despite what MUST be a misplaced decimal and my resultant temporary elation, it does sound like there's some good stuff in this contract, even for us newbies. And we are keeping somewhat hush-hush about it (that is, not staging massive pickets on Beacon Hill), as apparently the last time we won a good contract in bargaining and shoved it in Romney's face he got pretty pissed, and here we are today. Or so I'm told.

Not like this one'll get funded until 2010 anyway, we're still working on AY 2002-2003.


  10:51 AM — Sound Familiar?

A subspecies of Guido... 'The Shady Greaseball.' This gentleman sports slicked-back, greasy hair which is always long and stringy in the back. His face, customarily ratlike in appearance, will feature a pair of eyes which seemingly look everywhere at once, perpetually searching for the next pile of shit to jump into. (Clublife)

From the blog of a NYC bouncer that Unofischal got me hooked on reading the archives of. Doesn't that sound like a certain prof we all know and love? Believe me, if you've met him, you KNOW who I'm talking about!

Saturday, June 18, 2005
  5:14 PM — Mess!
Music: Cleaning Out My Closet - Eminem

This page's an absolute mess! I kept putting in more things and more things on the right, and now there's so much going on that it's really confusing looking... I just cleaned it up a bundle, spacing out the many images further apart so it's less of an imagery overload. I'm thinking of adding a second bar on the left and having one be text and one images, or both text at the top and images further down where they'll be less conflicting with the new title image. Man, this's nasty.

  4:10 PM — Header and Banner!
I've made a little banner, above, to look prettier on this page. It's kinda small, so I'll be making a nicer one someday, but I think that's all I've the energy for currently! :-P
Nice full image header now up!
If you wanted a banner to link to my site, unlikely though it might be, you can use the following:

Strange Musings banner for linking

I'm sure T$ will say the font's hard to read on either, but I really wasn't liking any of the traditional Sans Serif -- Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Trebuchet, I tried them all. They all looked too sterile compared to the "organic" flow of the image. The colors I chose for the title "Strange Musings" and subtitle "*hyuk*" are actually from the image, as opposed to my original idea of just doing plain white. Again, that seemed really flat and dead. However, there's a lot of contrast within the strawberries where I wanted to place the title, so if you squint you'll see that the title is doubled: once in teal (strawberry basket), and underneath in purple (plastic pail). The purple helps increase the contrast of the title against the green strawberry leaves and the shine on the strawberries.

Yay, I've still got what it takes to BS about artsy schtuff! <grin>

Friday, June 17, 2005
  11:43 PM — Cafepress and Photos
While surfing I happened across someone else's Cafepress store, which reminded me that I've got my own! Of course, it's in horrible shape, and the features have changed a bundle since I last looked at it, so I have to resize and reupload all the pictures I want to be on things, so it'll need a lot of work before I've got anything I'd want to buy even for myself, let alone as gifts for friends.

I still think Snapfish is best for photo printing--their prints really ARE photo quality (unlike what you get from some others), and the colors are Fuji-riffic! In actuality, they use HP paper, but if you ever had much color film processed and printed back before digicams were ubiquitous, you would've found as I did that Fuji had super-vibrant colors. I found this unfortunate, as I would rather give my business to Kodak -- historically the company did a lot for fledgling professional astrophotography back in the nineteen-teens so I would like to give them my business, but the Fuji product was sadly enough superior that I had to choose them over brand loyalty. But that's ok, I don't do film anymore so they both lose now. :-P

  12:14 PM — "If I had a quarter for every time..."
People keep using the phrase "If I had a nickel for every time someone did *blah*, then I'd be rich!" or "If I had a dime for every time someone did * blah'* then I could retire by now!" The example I read recently was "If I had a nickel for every restricted driver's license - a certain indicator of a DWI conviction in New York State - I see at the door, I could probably retire." (Club Life)

In my inimitable style of applying way too much math to everyday situations, I decided I'd analyze this in an order of magnitude approximation: make assumptions on how much money is "rich" or how much is needed per year to retire; determine how many nickels/dimes/quarters are in that amount of money and therefore how many times the event has to happen; estimate how often you'd need that to happen, or how long it'd take for *blah* to happen that many times; conclude whether the original statement was reasonable. Yes, this really does entertain me. Moreover, there's a chance I'll give a version of this on a physics exam in the Fall.

I'm going to analyze the following: "If I had a dime for every restricted ID I saw, I'd be rich."

What does "rich" mean? If you win a lottery jackpot of $1,000, that doesn't even buy you a decent used car. $10k does, but it doesn't buy you a house. $100k will net a house in some areas, but not most. $500k is a reasonable estimate for "rich," but $1M is definitely quite the pot of money, plus I want to make this an order of magnitude estimate (OME), meaning the first digit MUST be a 1, and all the others are 0's.

Since doing OME, let the coin in question be a dime ($0.10). $1 has 10 dimes. $1M will have 10M dimes. Whatever event we're talking about has to happen 10 million times for the speaker to be rich.

The speaker of the "driver's license/I could retire" claim has been a bouncer for 6 months, or half a year. A year has 52 weeks, so 6 months is 26 weeks. (I will here dispense with the OME, since 10 weeks is drastically different from 100 weeks, but I'll later round results to OME.) Each week the club is open three nights a week, so he's worked 78 nights. If he worked the door checking ID's every night, then in order to "be rich" then each night he'd have to find 10M/78=.128M=128k = 128 thousand restricted driver's licenses per night. If the club's open from 10pm-4am (which seems to be the case from his posts), that makes 6 hours per night, or 128k/6= 21 thousand restricted driver's licenses per hour, or 360 per minute, or 6 per second.

While that's not FAR outside the realm of possibility, it is slightly so. Let's determine what is more realistic. Assume he worked the same 78 nights at the door, 6 hrs per night, or 468 hours or 1.68k seconds total. Assuming he can check an ID every 5 seconds, he's checked 340k IDs. It seems reasonable to further assume that at worst 1 in 5 IDs is restricted, so he has seen 67,000 restricted IDs.

At a dime each, he has earned a measly $6,700 (or $10,000 OME), which is probably enough to replace his free Oldsmobile with a purchased used car, or to instead maintain the free car for a few years, but is NOT enough to be considered "rich,"nor to retire comfortably. In all likelyhood, the speaker has not seen nearly as many IDs outside his bouncing job, so they can be safely ignored.

The specific statement "If I had a dime for every restricted ID I saw, I'd be rich" is a gross exaggeration. Similar general statements "If I had a generic coin for every blah, I'd be rich/retired" are likely also overestimates. Better to keep working!

Thursday, June 16, 2005
  9:14 PM — Car

Unfortunately, I'm once again having car troubles. There's a reason it's named Bill. Around a year ago now, at the beginning of last summer, my steering wheel strangly started to have a lot of slop in it. The whole wheel would translate sideways and up and down when I applied force to it. This wasn't normal steering turning (that would be rotating about the steering column), and it wasn't like the tilt wheel (that's only up and down, and it didn't feel the same).

At the time my favorite mechanic had shut down supposedly for long term renovations and perhaps moving, so I found a random other one in Amherst. They told me the bolts that held the steering column in place had loosened, and charged me a few hours labor ($400?) to fix it.

Earlier this year, my turn signal stalk started giving me the same problems. That's got all the important junk on it: turn signal, wipers, high beams, cruise control. I took it to my landlord's shop in March I think, as I was having them fix my horn and thought they might end up taking the steering column apart anyway. They took a cover off the base of the stalk and saw that a piece of the steering column frame had broken off! Aaron suggested it'd cost way too much to be worth fixing, and they slapped it back together. And the high beams no longer worked.

So Tuesday I called the Meineke at the bottom of the campus hill and made an appointment for Wednesday. Dropped it off at 8am, had a very productive day stranded on campus, found out around 1pm that I'd need a new turn signal lever and maybe high beam switch and would have to bring it back next week, went to pick it up at 4:30pm, they said it'd be done at 5pm, lost patience at 7pm and went onto the floor to get the scoop.

... Turns out that the guy who "fixed" the steering wheel slop was full of shit, and had somehow wedged the high beam switch in to make it stop jiggling. Maybe the turn signal lever broke in this process but was also wedged in place, or maybe it broke later, that is not clear. The guy who took the cover of the stalk base then disturbed the delicate balance, and just slapped it back together somehow. When Bob at Meineke went to put it back together, it was like trying to reconstruct a Jenga tower: ain't gonna happen. I left the car, got a ride home from them, and took the bus to campus today ($1.50, 30min).

From my talking to them and my dad doing so, it appears that while it's theoretically possible to fix the three problems individually (high beam switch, turn signal lever, steering wheel slop), it would be an ass-load of work involving creating parts. Only slightly easier is scouring the nationwide database of junkyards to find me a whole new steering column. The search should take a day or two, the shipping another few days, and the total replacement a few hours to a few days. So sad! So $$$!

Meanwhile, my commute to campus is normally 5.1 miles or 10 min (according to Yahoo Maps), and is probably 10-30 min home during rush hour. One way, 5.1 miles, turns out to be $0.79 spent in gas one way (calculations available upon request). Bus fare is double that, bus time is double that, but neither are prohibitive, so I may start bussing more to save the environment.

Especially since my car's now gonna be in the shop through the middle of next week: they didn't manage to find a steering column nation wide (well, he's got a backup including the gear shift behind the steering wheel), so now he's going to try and find just the parts necessary to rebuild it. I asked for an estimate on parts and labor, and he had no clue! Any one want to donate to Zandi's car fund? I have to keep reminding myself of a BOTE (back of the envelope) calculation TacoTortoise did for me a couple days ago: new car payments would work out to roughly $400 a month, and I'm not paying nearly that much for the work on my current car.


  1:58 AM — Swipe your card
A month or two ago my poor friend JSue discovered someone had ripped off her debit card info. Apparently some store (or crooked employee) she visited had stored her card data, used it to create a fake card, and then went on a shopping spree at a 7-11. Luckily, her bank noticed this, stopped the charge, notified her, and she wasn't liable for a single TicTac. Well, just a few days ago it happened again, this time with a credit card and a $4,000 jewelry purchase.

I immediately assumed that it was probably one location doing the card info theft, and that J should cross-reference her statements to determine where it was. In explaining it to T$, I said that I thought it was more likely that it'd be one place than two places, and even if it wasn't it's easier to pursue the possibility of it being a single place so she should act upon that assumption until proven wrong. Which made me doubt my thought that it was a single place. I started musing it statistically, and most of the content from this post was emailed to my former roommate, Jethereal, whom teaches statistics, for verification.

Assume the chance of one store being crooked (or having a crooked employee, same difference) is x (x is a fraction likely <<1). The chance of any OTHER store also being crooked is also x, as I'll assume every store is indistinguishable. Assuming you already have a crooked store, assume the chance of them ripping YOU off is y (y is a fraction <1, but maybe not <<1).

(I believe the second in the "one store twice" x turns into a 1 b/c if it was crooked before, it's still crooked, but each time you have a certain chance they'll rip you off. The same store being still crooked is a dependent event.)
Assuming x<1, y<1, implies xy^2 < x^2*y^2, so it's more likely that J had her data ripped off at a single store than two separate stores.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
  7:36 PM — Pasta Salad
A great thing to make for a heat wave! I added avocado this time, but didn't include the hard boiled eggs and some of the other veggies, and it's awesome. Be forewarned: the recipie below is vague, as are all the recipies I "write." Think of it as giving you room for variation and self-expression. If you like rigid recipies then you've come to the wrong place.



  1. Prepare whole package of pasta according to directions. Include a little olive oil to help with sticking later.

  2. Rinse pasta in cold water. Drain and place in large mixing/serving bowl.

  3. Hard boil eggs. (You can use the water from the pasta if you like to save electricity, heat and time.)

  4. Add Italian dressing and spices to pasta to taste. Mix.

  5. Chop various veggies into small pieces. (I probably do around 20 baby carrots, half a cucumber, 10 cherry tomatos...)

  6. Cut avocado and (peeled) hard boiled eggs into slightly larger pieces to prevent mushing.

  7. Crumble feta.

  8. Add veggies, egg, feta, and acovado to pasta to taste. (Taste after each item to see if you like your balance. Add feta near the end so it doesn't overwhelm the others--or allow people to add to their own taste. Add avocado last so it doesn't lose integrity too soon.)

  9. Chill further if desired.

  10. Serve cold.


  2:17 PM — Not to Scale
I read in the following in someone's blog today:

I think a true space flight would be one which goes to the moon and makes a couple of rounds and then returns to Earth. Or, maybe something which goes halfway to the moon.

I was amazed at how ignorant this stament was. Most people really don't understand size scales involved in space at all. I replied with the following scale model.

If you take a basketball, or a soccer ball (football in Europe), it's around a foot (0.3m) in diameter. Call that the Earth. The Moon's size in comparison is one quarter of that, or 3 inches (8cm), or say a tennis ball. Now hold them 30 feet (10m) apart--maybe a couple rooms in your house apart--and that's how far apart the Earth and the Moon are, to scale. In this model, the Space Shuttle never gets more than 0.6 inches (1.5cm) from the basketball Earth, and certainly not halfway to the moon.

More specifically, the Earth is 12,700km in diameter, and the Space Shuttle orbit ranges from 185-643km above the surface (c/o Wikipedia). If we assume the basketball is 12" diameter, that gives me 643km/12,700km=x/12" --> x=0.6" (with 1 Sig. Fig.). The highest Mercury mission apogee was 285km, the ISS is at 360km, and the HST is 600km. (This difference between the ISS and the HST is why the ISS can't serve as a bail-out place for a potential future Hubble servicing mission that won't happen.)

If you find any errors in my calculations, feel free to post a comment and correct me. That's the beauty of science! :)

  9:00 AM — Synchronicity
In an amusing case of synchronicity, yesterday while driving on I-95 my iPod first queued up the Dorks in Space rendition of U2's With or Without You, and then U2's cover of Frank Sinatra's Night and Day. I was just waiting for the third song to be Frankie doing Dorks' Someday I'll Get Laid, but alas, it was not to be.

  12:12 AM — J Sue and Q too!
J Sue and Q recently came to visit me and Jethereal here in MA from hot hot hot AZ.

Sample photos are now in a bar on the right, and I'll embedd (sp?) them when I write a more detailed description.


Monday, June 13, 2005
  11:54 PM — Rent
My favorite Broadway musical, Rent, is being made into a movie that's opening this Fall. I can't wait! I really love the soundtrack and am constantly listening to it on my iPod in my car. (It's pumping through the car radio, not headphones, duh.) I found out recently there's small bits of dialogue that're missing from the CD, so I'm looking forward to buying the DVD (in a couple years...) and playing it in the background at home.

  12:21 PM — Flickr
I'm starting to play around with uploading images to Flickr (username zandperl, of course!). I don't yet know how to do anything but upload--it doesn't have intuitive buttons for "send link to friends," "permanent link for image," or anything like that. I suspect they're all there, but not too user-friendly-like. I'm browsing thru the FAQ right now, so by the time any readers think to comment with tips I'll've probably figured it out on my own. :)

Update: My Flickr photos can be found here. I told you I'd figure it out quick!

  9:38 AM — England Exchange?
So in August T$ and I are going to London, and I'm trying to figure out what's easiest/cheapest/best for having money there. I've read that ATMs provide the best exchange rate, but I think Bank America charges an ATM fee--at least Fleece used to, of $5. Exchanging cash either here or there could either have a poor exchange rate, or have commission fees. Ditto if we got traveller's checks (which also cost money) and then exchanged them. I guess a bunch of purchases could be done straight on my credit card, which wouldn't have any extra fee, and probably would have a good rate, but that always takes longer. I've also heard that I need my ATM card to have only a 4-digit PIN. Man, Paris seemed so much easier...

Friday, June 10, 2005
  9:13 PM — North Shore
Music: Aselin Debison - Driftwood

Today Jethereal and I went on a day/driving trip to the North Shore. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, in Massachusetts the "North Shore" refers to the stretch of beachfront property stretching between Boston and New Hampshire: pricey and gorgeous! There's LOTS of miles to cover there.

Sidewalk Worms
We took I-495 up and over and then various little roads from there. Our first stop was the quaint brick town Newburyport where it must've rained recently, because the sidewalks had lots of worms on them.

Actually, we found the source of the worms a little later.

Beautiful beach views
The rest of the day we spent going to various beaches on the North Shore, and eating way too much fudge. The views at the beach were just gorgeous!

I did manage to snap a single shot of myself and Jethereal together. Amazingly, I was holding the camera at arms length while I took this one. If only my face were less distorted... :-P

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
  6:56 PM — Grab'n'Go
If I could only grab one thing (posession) from my house before it burned to the ground otherwise taking me with it, I would save Peeper, my adorable 15-yr old cockatiel. (See this post for a photo.) If two items, I am hard pressed to say whether the second would be my laptop or my wallet. I'm slightly inclined towards the laptop since I'd have to leave my cellphone either way, and the laptop has most important numbers in it.

And yeah, I know someone's going to bitch that pets aren't things, but according to the law in most states, that's all they are. Animal cruelty laws are barely enforced, and if your neighbor runs over your dog, you're likely to be awarded the cost of replacing the animal, but not really much for emotional distress. Some juries award more than the dollar value of the pet under some "unique item" clause, but that doesn't really help.

  12:25 PM — IMDB
I just discovered today that the IMDB saves and charts demographics of people who vote on movies. For example, how much you like American History X is inversely proportional to your age. Or for Monsoon wedding, younger men like the movie less than older men, while younger women like it more than older women, but overall women like it better than men.

I'm impressed at the level of detail of info. Two interesting points they don't really disclose:

  1. It's a SLOP: self-selected opinion poll, meaning it is not a representative sample. People who participate in the survey are more likely to enjoy the movie in the first place.

  2. Perhaps that's why they weight the average by some mysterious undisclosed algorithm.

That's ok, most readers of the page probably don't have enough training in statistics or surveys to realize these drawbacks exist, or that they are drawbacks at all. :-\

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
  9:35 AM — Homo conus caput

I went to bed last night as normal a human being as I ever am, and I woke a conehead!

Hm, is it spelled "conehead," "cone-head," "cone head," or are there even capitalizations involved?

Monday, June 06, 2005
  10:13 PM — $$ Priceless $$
Extra money I earn as a full-time faculty member over what I earned as a grad student:
$670/mo ($8,000/yr)

Extra take-home pay after health insurance deductions (and union dues):
$250/mo ($3,000/yr)

Extra money to spend on a potential mortgage after rent, utilities, and other expenses:
$0.00/any time unit


  2:55 PM — RSS feed
Meredithanne42 has been kind enough to set up an RSS feed for my main blog! If you're a Livejournal user, just add the friend zandperl2 and you'll see when I update.

  9:53 AM — Public Diary
I realized the other day that I probably will never write in a physical diary again. I was pondering The Diary of Anne Frank after it came up in a rousing game of TabooTM, and wondered what would make it to my posthumous diary. Then I realized that even if I found my childhood diary, I haven't written in it in years, and I don't really have the urge to do so today, despite frequent postings to my blog. Then I realized this is my diary--in the future, will someone bind all these with my paper diary, and a journal of poems I have somewhere too, and publish it all in 20 languages?

Then I started thinking about the concept of a public> diary. Do I write different things here from what I would write in a private, paper, diary? I think so, or maybe it's an age issue. I used to write a lot about events that happened to me on a daily basis, as well as my own feelings and reactions to those events. One of the most common topics in my childhood diary would be considered interpersonal relationships. For example, if M*** takes my candy at lunch, does that mean she's my friend? Did A*** notice it when my hand touched his while playing Spit on Bus 7?

Now my life seems less complicated. I am more bold than I once was, and so such issues are no longer issues. I asked T*** out on our first date (and yeah, I'm still proud of it, it's quite the catch). I didn't trust J*** while going climbing with him, so I told him, and then stopped climbing with him when he didn't improve. Those things that used to be so crucial to me are now not.

Today's issues are ... different. I'm not sure how to describe them. Some postings (journal entries) are about politics or current events. News Unfit is specifically an outlet for my humor on the news (and the shitty reporting of it at times). Perhaps a number of my posts are meta-posts--discussing the nature of posting. Hm, maybe I could theme a new blog around that...

  8:40 AM — Gorgeous Blogs
One of the drawbacks to surfing many other blogs via Blog Explosion is that it points out to me how many beautiful blogs there are out there. And mine ain't one of them! Well, I have a clean design which a number of them dont' have, but I'd say 50% of the blogs on Blog Explosion look like they're individually designed rather than taking a stock layout from Blogger or LiveJournal. I should think about doing that myself, at least using my own css boxes if not images.

But on the good side, Blog Explosion has been increasing my readship slightly--Google AdSense says it's hopped up from the teens to the tens in the past day or two. I've even gotten a comment from a random stranger! Shout-out goes to schuey, who doesn't think I'm lame at all. :-P

I guess Blog Explosion's giving me new first-time readers; now I have to do something to retain them as returners--better content, more frequent updating, prettier layout...

Sunday, June 05, 2005
  11:20 PM — Uncle Jack's
Recently I've been on a kick to drive up readership of my blog. No real reason, I'm just kinda curious to see how many readers I can get. I signed up for Blog Explosion, which is one of a billion blog cross-promotion webpages, but they have an entertaining credits system you can use to advertise your blog more within their webpages. The way you earn these credits is (predictably) to view other blogs. In the process I came across Uncle Jack's, which must be the lamest blog ever, with a WONDERFUL article about whether ROTH IRAs or traditional retirement plans are better.

Yes, I know I'm driving up his traffic with this post, but it entertains me that someone would post such things in a *personal* blog, and additionally that he'd go and advertise the blog when the subtitle says the blog's for friends and family!

Man, are my blogs this lame?

  8:30 PM — Freedom of Speech
In the US, the act of desecrating a religious symbol is protected by the First Amendment.

Moreover, it is even protected by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document states that that all human beings have the right to express themselves however they choose. Soverign nations may not prevent the expression of ideas in any medium. However, they may still punish it as they wish. Included in "legitimate" reasons for punishment are defamation, maintaining order, maintaining national security, and maintaining morals.

Examples of laws limiting Freedom of Speech:


WARNING: This blog often contains disturbing stories of science and math as used in every day life.

If you are easily disturbed or a Luddite, surf on elsewhere.

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Location: New England, United States
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