What Kind of Pies?

In the event, it turns out they axed The Ballad for the Sweeney Todd movie, so the six words I mentioned earlier are not really bubbling around inside my head. Instead, I almost get some of the pie song (A Little Priest) in my head, but somehow these lines don't have the same pull:

Eminently practical
And yet appropriate as always!

I was surprised to find that both Depp and Bonham Carter are older than I am.

Oddly, this is the second movie this month where my favorite scene is at the beach. Perhaps I need a bit of a break down by the sea. Wouldn't that be smashing?

About Atonement

Walked down to see Atonement at the local on Friday. I think the movie was excellent, in spite of the few times that I expected the characters to burst into song. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy musicals as much as the next guy...

Probably more than the next guy, actually. I mean, more than the next guy will admit. I suppose it also depends on who that next guy is. I've been looking forward to Sweeney Todd for months. The Brunette is not so excited, and I think that's only partly because of the gore. I imagine she's a little worried about my tendency to burst into song at all hours of the day. And even that wouldn't be so bad, I think, if I could remember more than six words to any given song. I've been walking around bleating "The demon barber of Fleet.......Street!" over and over and over. It's gotta be worse than the Christmas music.

At any rate, Atonement was a fascinating look into the way writing fiction warps your head. And the scenes on the beach for the English retreat from France were surreal. And a little musical, I guess. There was something for everyone: Edwardian romance (technically Georgian, I guess, but it felt Edwardian), hospital drama, and gritty WWI strife. And that incessant typewriter clacking, clacking, clacking incessantly.

Or maybe I was the only one who heard the typewriter?


I've been formulating business rules for activities that involve walking. These business rules can be very useful in understanding how to react to a given situation. For example, imagine two people meet in a doorway. There's always this awkward moment: who's going to force through? Who's going to relinquish the space? In general, I think I'd push for a rule that says if two people meet in a doorway, the person coming out of a room should have the right of way. I think it's a good rule, because generally a room will have fewer access points than not a room and so it seems to make sense that you can assume there's more, um, room outside the room. So, everybody let's go ahead and apply this rule!

Except, maybe for bathrooms?

I don't mean that bathrooms will have more space in them, but perhaps in the case of a restroom, the person entering should have the right-of-way because the need is more urgent?

(This is a picture of the downstairs bath in our Glasgow home back in the day.)

Plumbing the Depths

Live blogging from the bus! (I'm sitting on the C2 idling at Roosevelt Center.)

Well, w00t, as the youngsters say. Our contractor called to ask if he could bring his plumber by to look at what the job in our kitchen will entail. He's not actually going to do any work, but gosh it's nice to see something happen.

That Was A Great Pyramid

So, there's a new theory about how the Great Pyramid was constructed. As an engineer, I'm interested in the feat of creating this thing 4000 years ago, but I think these folks are just trying too hard. Everybody knows that the pyramids weren't built using cranes or ramps. Egypt didn't have enough wood to waste on that! I have a better theory:

The pyramids were carved right where they stand.

Think about it: the stones are too large to move easily. The easiest thing would be to just carve them. Perhaps there used to be large mountains where now we see only desert. And the desert sand? The resultant leavings, of course.

(Actually, of course, this is not really a theory. It's an hypothesis.)

Fantasy v. Science Fiction

They're at it again, arguing discussing the definition of the fantasy and science fiction genres. I think the key thing that delineates science fiction and fantasy writers from all other writers is the continuing over-examination of labels. Perhaps this is why I like speculative fiction so much: it's all about questioning everything, after all. Do mystery writers argue about the line between noir and hard-boiled detective novels? Oh, actually, I think they do.

Anywho, here is my take: Imagine you truly believed the contents of the story's universe. If this takes you into the realm of religion, then the story was fantasy.

Also: Re: I Am Legend? Poor dog.

The Emperor's Children (Claire Messud)

"You're wondering," says the lanky man sprawled in the handicapped seat in front of me, "whether I'd make a good business contact."

"No, actually," I reply. "I am not."

"Sure," says the woman on the other side of the Metro car. "You deduce from his clean but relaxed appearance -- jeans at rush hour, but not surrounded by a gaggle of kids --"

"So I'm probably not a tourist," he puts in.

"It seems likely that he's in the IT field just like you," she concludes. "And since you are wondering about your future and the uncertainty of it all..."

"Well, no, I'm not really all that introspective," I say.

"Sure you are," she says. "You're reading that book." She points to The Emperor's Children, which I have just finished reading on the bus.

"Actually, I was running through a beanshell script in my head. I wasn't thinking about either of you."

"Sure you were," she says. "Or we wouldn't be here, right? As for me, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I am not indeed interested in him." She flicks her eyes to the lanky geek. "I mean, there's nothing wrong with him or anything and I generally have a weakness for the nerdy type, but I'm at a point in my life where all that logic baggage will just wear me down."

"I could object," he interrupts, "and claim that I can be as illogical as the next guy, but I'm not really sure that's true, or that I even want it to be true."

"I don't know if being a geek is all that related to being logical all the time," I say.

"Still," she sighs, "I can see he is interested. Not because I'm anything special, mind you -- I've lived too many years inside this head to fool myself on that score -- but he's thinking about chemistry."

"There is definitely chemistry," he replies. "And I've never been one to worry about timing."

"Well, aren't you two the terribly observant ones?" I exclaim.

"Oh, you poor thing," she says. "I see now what the trouble is. The book has reinforced your belief that everyone else is better at reading those secret signals than you are. At the same time that you are amazed at how easy it is for these characters to analyze and understand themselves and others, you are in constant fear that you are somehow missing out."

"And maybe someone understands you better than you do yourself," he says.

"It is not true," I proclaim. "Although I loved this book, I was always aware that these overexamined lives were not realistic. Nobody can get inside the head of another so easily, and I can prove it."

"Oh?" they cry in unison as the train drifts to Fort Totten station. "How?"

"If you could read me so well," I claim as I stand and then exit the car, "you'd have known I didn't want to be bothered by you people!"

As the door closes behind me, I hear the woman say confidently, "He's just covering up his fear."

I stand for a moment on the platform and catch my breath. Then I look up and notice that about a hundred of my fellow commuters are sharing the platform with me. Each and every one of them is staring at me. Judging me. And I am crushed by the awareness that I do know what it is they are thinking about me!

Family Snarkus

Did anybody else read this Sunday's Family Circus and find it disturbing racially?

I'm finding it difficult to deal with because I have the tendency to sing White Christmas for other holidays, too, but the vision of that little brat singing it ("White Presidents Day?" Come on!) made me squeamish. At least he didn't sing "White MLK Day."

Even worse, I just admitted to my hordes of readers that I read Family Circus on the weekends. Oh, the shame!


Well, looks like my daemon is still a rabbit. I liked the snow leopard better, though perhaps this description does fit me:

  • Modest
  • Solitary
  • Softly Spoken
  • Humble
  • Fickle

Yup, that's me modest and humble all over. Why, I must be the most modest and humble person I know.

But fickle? Please.


So, I'm enjoying this comic called xkcd. You might enjoy it, too. Here are two I pulled out of his archives:

I want to live in a lighthouse, too.

Speaker for the Dead! Speaker for the Dead!


Not sure what I want to say about this quote except that I really like it and I'm sure it has a lot of applications. It's too long to just whip out in regular conversations, though:

I perplex my students repeatedly because they have all been indoctrinated into believing that sentences cannot begin with such words as "and" or "but", that paragraphs cannot have more than five sentences in them, that sentences with more than a certain number of words in them are run-ons, etc. I tell them this is not true. I tell them what matters is purpose and audience. I tell them there is no such thing as "right" or "wrong" style and usage, just style and usage that work and are appropriate to particular audiences and purposes. They ask me why their other teachers told them differently. I want to say, "Because they were lying. All of us lie to children. You will, too, someday." Instead, I say, "They were trying to teach you some basic principles. They were good at heart. Don't be bitter. There are plenty of other things to be bitter about."
(From The Mumpsimus, emphasis added.)


Well, it's been two months since the last report (eleven since project inception), and very little has changed. I slapped a second layer of plaster to smooth out a bit, but I've been hesitant to get to too finished a look since the movement of the washer/dryer and installation of a 220V outlet for the range will have an impact on the wall.

However, today we received good news. The contractor submitted his paperwork and we received the OK from the co-op to proceed. We are back to momentum!

Now, we just have to get on the contractor's schedule. I suspect this will be difficult, but I hope we can have some room in the kitchen in time for our Poe's Supper celebration.

I Like Yam Pie, Myself

Watch for Vultures on Bridge

This is a sign on US-98 outside Okeechobee, Florida. The picture was taken while facing east.

Cross the bridge and turn to face west. The sign you'll see says:

Watch for Buzzards on Bridge

Best I can figure is that it's like sweet potatoes: they're buzzards on the North side of the road and vultures on the South.

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