Word of the Day

Is it just me or is the American public getting dumber every day? Why in the world would Dictionary.com decide that "pot" is the word everybody needs to have a deeper understanding for?

Betwixt and Between

So there seems to be some sort of fad going around regarding closely observing mundane things. I thought I'd give it a try. Oh, what joy I found!

For the whole of last week, I carefully carried out my little observational experiment. It was quite an arduous task made more difficult by my desire to keep my actions close to my vest. I knew from our good friend Heisenberg that I might have an effect on the thing observed if it knew I was observing it.

Or was that Goodall?

At any rate, this is the thing I noticed: Every single day last week, there were three stations between Greenbelt and Fort Totten.

You might be thinking that this was no interesting feat. Perhaps you could have done the same thing yourself. My response has two parts: (1) Well, you didn't, did ya? and (2) How long would you have spent on the thorny question of the definition of "between"?

Your answer to the eternal between problem probably says a lot about you. A sports fan might frame it thusly: are you tennis or football? I guess I've learned I'm football. Fort Totten cannot be between Greenbelt and Fort Totten any more than the Earth can put itself between the Earth and the Sun. If it could, we would all gather behind telescopes to watch Terrestrial Eclipses. (Of course, we'd be careful not to stare. Or swim within 30 minutes after it was over.)

It's also a lot like relationships, really. You can't really be the person that comes between you and your significant other. Only Raoul or Sharona from the gym can do that. Actually, I guess you can come between you and your significant other, but only if you have real problems.

EoY Cleaning House

Well, since I can't actually go home and clean, I guess I'll muck with the blog while I wait for testers to test and developers to develop.

I've switched over to the new Blogger template method of mucking with design. It starts off as easier than the old html method, but if you know any html (and I'm not saying I do), it quickly becomes a pain because I just want to do X and it doesn't let me!.

Interestingly, it also seems to have removed all of the tags inside my posts, so there aren't any line breaks.

Blame it on Oblomov

A Weather Report

This weather has gotten me into a funk. Cold and snowy, I could like. Warm and rainy, I could deal with. But cold and rainy is awfully depressing for this time of the year.

It might also be this head cold that I have been battling off and on for months. Just when I think I've recovered, I get another bought of raw throat or coughing.

On the other hand, this morning I noticed a lot of other folks on the Metro shuffling around like shell-shocked survivors of some catastrophe, moping through the motions of returning to regular life after some kind of titanic disruption. Perhaps the holiday season is much like a volcanic eruption or earthquake that we do to ourselves every year and spend a few weeks picking up our pieces and trying to reassemble normality.

Or just maybe I shouldn't be reading Russian novels in the winter.


Wow! Two posts in one day!

One of the single most useful services on the web is called TinyURL. If you have a really, really long URL that will get broken when you put it into an email, you can go to TinyURL and it will convert it into a smaller URL that won't get a line break from your email system.

For example, say you wanted to tell everybody about your dancing cat at http://www2.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=6010810, but when you send it in email, the email changes it to http://ww2.blogger.com/post-
create.g?blogID=6010810. That's no good. TinyURL can change that into a smaller one: http://tinyurl.com/vwm3c

Today, though, I found that you can make it give you a URL that's longer than the URL you started with. I found this out because I accidentally pasted one TinyURL into the TinyURL generator. I got this:

TinyURL was created!

The following URL:


has a length of 24 characters and resulted in the following TinyURL which has a length of 25 characters:


Select * From emotions Where feeling in ('tired','grumpy','hungry')

Well, my little sign only lasted a day.

I was here until nearly eleven last night. I'm pretty beat. I sure hope we get this done soon. What is the deal with db people? It's like we don't speak the same language or something. When I hear 'ETL', I generally think that means we won't be able to have a single set of insert statements that works in all environments. Otherwise, it would just be an 'L'. Am I crazy or something?


So, there's this vending machine --

Wait a minute! Before I go any farther (further?), I have got to stop and say: "We went to a great party on Sunday." Oh, yeah, our neighbors pulled out all the stops, and we walked away with some excellent loot. The Brunette hasn't stopped singing into the microphone radio since Monday morning. Our neighbors rock. (Insert whatever it is kids these days express admiration for others.)
So, at any rate, there's this vending machine at work. As the week goes on, it gets covered with these tiny little yellow sticky notes that say things like, "This machine owes me 25 cents -- Susan" and "This machine ate my dime -- Tom" This morning, I noticed a new note. It says, "This machine gave me an extra 40 cents -- Roger". Now, I thought that was a pretty impressive thing for Roger to do. Personally, I thought he should go to Susan and Tom and split his winnings, but at least he fessed up to it. I also thought it was time to add another note to the machine, so I did. It said:

"This machine said bad things about my mother."

Tall Tall True, Tales (Dale Butler)

TALESWAPPER: Testing... Testing...
GREAT UNCLE LEADBELLY: What are you doing?
T: I dunno. It's just what you do at the start of a tape.
GREAT AUNT IVA: Leave the boy alone.
GUL: [unintelligible]
T: OK. Let's get started. This is tape one. I'm here today to interview my imaginary relatives. This is the beginning of a bit of oral history inspired --
GAI: Do you have to call us "imaginary"?
T: Well, you're not exactly real.
GAI: Oh! That's awful hurtful.
T: I'm sorry, Aunt Iva. If it's any consolation, you're the best imaginary great aunt I've ever known.
GAI: Sweet boy.
GUL: [unintelligible]
GAI: Are you going to snort and grown through this whole thing?
GUL: Maybe. We'll have to see.
T: At any rate...[ahem]...I'm here today
GUL: You said that already.
T: What?
GUL: "I'm here today." We know you're here today. That's why we can hear your voice on the machine thing.
T: Well, I...Ok. So, we're about to record a bit of the oral history of the family. I was inspired to start this effort by a book called Tall Tall True, Tales and Bermuda Traditions, which was written by a man in Bermuda.
GUL: Which you can tell from the title...
T: We received this book as a gift from our wonderful neighbors who had visited Bermuda recently. They have a nice little chihuahua and a strange looking, but friendly, cat. We watched the dog for them while they were on vacation.
GUL: Boy, you do go on.
GAI: Do you have any pictures of the dog?
T: Actually, I do. The dog looks tiny next to our cat, don't you think?
GUL: [unintelligible]
T: Sorry. I just wanted to set the background. This book had a lot of stuff about the author's childhood, followed by instructions for generating a similar family account. So, I thought...
GUL: OK. During the war, I remember looking at the General and telling him, "Ain't no way we're going to make it down the hill ahead of us and it's durn near impossible to go back down the hill behind us. So we're either gonna have to sit here on top of the hill and moon the enemy or...
GAI: Nobody wants to hear about your imaginary war record.
GUL: Fat lot you know. What do you want to tell him about?
GAI: I thought we could discuss my early sweethearts.
GUL: [unintelligible]
GAI: There you go again...
T: Actually, I think the instructions say to start with your childhood.
GUL: She was never young
GAI: He never grew up
T: So how many licks did you get as a kid?
GAI: Licks?
T: You know: beatings, spankings, that sort of thing. The book was all full of punishment. It was very funny.


GAI: We didn't really...Do you think there's enough tape?
T: I imagine there's plenty.
GUL: What else you got?
T: OK. Let's see. Did you enjoy the Gambey dancers?
GAI: You know we didn't grow up in Bermuda, right?
T: Sure, I just thought...I don't have much to work with here. I can ask about your favorite meals or the games you played. That didn't seem so interesting to me. What I really want to hear -- in your own words -- is what it was like to live through the last century. I think we can extract from that some nugget of truth about my roots and what eventually shaped me into who I am.
GUL: You're still rambling on. I don't know where you got that from.
GAI: Don't look at me, buck-o. We're imaginary, remember?
GUL: He's done talked so much we're going to run out of tape.
T: Oh, I don't think...
GUL: Hello? Computer? Is anybody out there?
T: Great Uncle, I...You don't have to lean so close to the mic.
GUL: I want to get a word in before the end.
T: Truly, I think there's still plenty of


A Quick Note

This week, I've been reading Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. On the same day I came upon his description of the play featuring the 15th century postal couriers Thurn and Taxis, I came upon the same name in Matthew Baldwin's list of 10 games that would make great presents.

Even better, just above this game was one called Wits & Wagers. Wits & Wagers was created by Greenbelt's own Northstar Games. Mensa has named it the "Best Mind Game 2006", and Games Magazine named it "Best Party Game 2007". Way to go Dominic and Satish!

The Abbot of Unreason

Sir Walter Scott provided this little tale about my ancestors:

The reader may be amused with the following whimsical details of this incident, which took place in the castle of Borthwick, in the year 1517. It appears, that in consequence of a process betwixt Master George Hay de Minzeane and the Lord Borthwick, letters of excommunication had passed against the latter...

It seems that the inhabitants of the castle were at this time engaged in the favourite sport of enacting the Abbot of Unreason, a species of high jinks, in which a mimic prelate was elected, who, like the Lord of Misrule in England, turned all sort of lawful authority, and particularly the church ritual, into ridicule.

This frolicsome person with his retinue, notwithstanding of the apparitor's character, entered the church, seized upon the primate's officer without hesitation, and, dragging him to the mill-dam on the south side of the castle, compelled him to leap into the water...The unfortunate apparitor was then conducted back to the church, where, for his refreshment after his bath, the letters of excommunication were torn to pieces, and steeped in a bowl of wine; the mock abbot being probably of opinion that a tough parchment was but dry eating, [the primate] was compelled to eat the letters, and swallow the wine, and dismissed by the Abbot of Unreason, with the comfortable assurance, that if any more such letters should arrive during the continuance of his office, "they should a' gang the same gate," _i. e._ go the same road.

I've been toying with the idea of changing the name of this site to The Abbot of Unreason. While I pondered this change, I thought I'd give it a try. That's a picture of me in my new outfit. What do you think?

Actually, that's me dressed up as the Bishop St. Nicholas. They like to pick someone who the kids won't recognize, and since I'm never at the church on Sundays, I seemed like a good fit. Unfortunately, the hat was not a good fit. It kept falling down over my eyes.

Festival of Lights - Greenbelt

It was an unseasonably warm evening as Greenbelt launched its annual festival of lights with a concert band, choir, and cookies. Santa visited. He arrived atop a very loud fire truck, which dropped him off and drove away. I wonder if it was in search of a fire.

It was also quite a windy evening and the ornaments on the tree flopped about but did not detach while we were there.

Every Blog Has One

Obligatory Cat Picture

So, the Brunette learns to knit. The cat gets a new hat.