Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rode Hard and Put Up Wet

Playing a Ft. Collins dance usually means a long, late-night, drive home, and a 2 A.M. bedtime.

Yesterday, I talked Lyn into going up with me, begged a spare bedroom off of a pair of Ft. Collins dancers -- Peter and Mary -- and got a full night's sleep. This morning, we got up, climbed in the car, and headed north, to see the last day of this year's Cheyenne Frontier Days.

We watched the finals for bareback riding, bull riding, saddle-bronc riding, calf (tie-down) roping, and steer wrestling, from the $12 nosebleed seats. Well worth the price, and we got to see some national champions.

Here's Lyn at the Indian village. Think she looks like she's been rode hard and put up wet? Wishful thinking.


A quiz for Lyn Mead, Ron Coleman, and Tony Soprano. No cheating, now.

Alternative Histories

I've liked alternative histories for, oh, ever. Here's one that David Aitken points us at: What if... we gave up in 2001?

Not bad writing for an anonymous professional diplomat with a day job. Be interesting to see Harry Turtledove expand on this.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Quis custodiet custodes?

Hugh Hewitt has discovered a nice approach to interview requests:

"Sure. And, while we're at it, I'll just broadcast the full text of the interview on the web, so nothing's accidentally taken out of context."

"Uh. I'll get back to you."

So far, it's worked for him on both the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Vitame Vas

A warm welcome to advokat and mirror-writer Ronald Coleman, who will guest blog here whenever it suits his fancy.

The regular reader of this blog is probably wondering how to tell which posts are by guest-blogger Coleman. I'll reveal the three-step algorithm that I've been using:
  1. Ask Fredrick Mosteller. If he says, "Either Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, but I can't tell which," it's Coleman. If he says "Bozo the Clown," it's Goyishekop.
  2. Look at the bottom of the post. If Blogger says "Posted by Ronald Coleman," then it's former child-star and E-street Band member, Coleman. If not, it's either me, or our other guest blogger, John G. Roberts, Jr.
  3. Read the post. If it's actually entertaining or insightful, it's frequently-instalanched Coleman. If not, add some trenchant and erudite comments; subsequent readers will think they're Coleman's and not actually care who wrote the original post.

Shoeing the Cobbler's Children

A couple of years ago, I got a tour of NCAR's machine shop. One thing I got to see was 3-D printers, that can actually print objects -- prototypes of tools that the shop then produces. Since I was working for a printer company, I realized that we could use this technology to print our printers.

At first, I thought the next step would be to print the money our customers would need to buy them. Then I had an epiphany.

"Why stop there?" I thought. "We could just print customers."

I sent this suggestion to our marketing department, but somehow they forgot to reply.

Now, I see that some thoughtful, Japanese engineers are not worrying about customers, but are working on addressing the real needs of engineers, instead.

Punctuation on the Web

One summer, my ex-wife worked at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. Their IT department had decreed that everyone's login/email address would be "first initial followed by last name." After about a week, the system administrator called her in and told her that they'd received so many comments that they'd let her change hers. Her name? A. Peskin.

Richard Johnson tells me that it took these guys surprisingly long to figure out that they needed a hyphen in their name.

Just Very Late Adopters

For a year or so, I've been doing the intellectual experiment of running my Intel box as a Linux appliance-client. I run off a Knoppix CD, using my local coffee shop -- which has free wireless -- as my ISP. I've gotten two nice things out of it:
  • I've learned really a lot. I can't really customize my environment, so habits I've relied on for years no longer work. I have to learn all the new, cool stuff.
  • I can't save anything, so I've embraced web services. Email? Gmail. Scheduling? Backpack. Bookmarks? A9 or the Google customizable home page or Furl or Blogging? Blogger and blogspot and technorati and Flickr. Music? Streaming audio and podcasts and Odeo.
By blind luck, I'm state-of-the art. Web services are all the rage. Cool. Except guess who's ahead of me? The Amish. Sayeth Wired:
What could be a better mark of irreversible acceptance than adoption by the Amish? I was visiting some Amish farmers recently. They fit the archetype perfectly: straw hats, scraggly beards, wives with bonnets, no electricity, no phones or TVs, horse and buggy outside. They have an undeserved reputation for resisting all technology, when actually they are just very late adopters. Still, I was amazed to hear them mention their Web sites.

'Amish Web sites?' I asked.

'For advertising our family business. We weld barbecue grills in our shop.'

'Yes, but '

'Oh, we use the Internet terminal at the public library. And Yahoo!'
Me and the Amish.

Oy, yoi, yoi, yoi ...

Yankl Falk tells me he can no longer find his Yiddish lyrics for Cielito Lindo. If you have some, the Grouchy Geezers want them.

Maybe they can ask here.

Newsweek Drops Issue, Cites Poor Ad Sales

I keep blogging about things like this because I don't know anyone in the MSM to whom I can say "I told you so."


How did I miss this? It is a very bizarre experience...

Pope Off the Ropes?

You could get a hernia just blogging the highlights of other people's blogs, especially blogs that sit at the top of the cyberheap. But how can you not be interested in this item from Instapundit -- a book that attempts to upend the conventional wisdom regarding Pope Pius' actions and omissions as to the Jews during World War II? This should lead to quite a catfight, a la the Goldhagen dustups of a few years back. I'm standing back and watching.

192 Bottles of Wine on the Wall, 192 Bottles of Wine ...

Yesterday afternoon, Jeremy Hinegardner and I bottled 16 cases of wine, which we made at The Beer Store. Luckily, today David Aitken alerted me to another fine drinking game.

Likelihood of Intrusion

Casual, free-form blogging, here we come!

No, but seriously. Thanks to GK for the invitation to guest blog here, in response to my pitiable request for a place to blog a little looser (I didn't say a little loser -- I don't even know how tall he is!) here. It beats working -- and my real blog is kind of like work. I also promise no more links to -- I mean, to that blog.

Main thing is I'll be damned if I'm going to let that silly Judge Roberts slide in here before me. Stinkin' Harvard guy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sir Goethem Haemer

I have services like Blogspot and Technorati and Google notify me whenever they find a webpage containing the name "Haemer." I can do this because my name isn't "Smith" or "localhost," so the traffic is sparse. Here's what I got today.

I rather like "Sir Goethem."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Think You'd Better Slow Your Mustang Down

In 1978, I moved to Colorado and began looking for folks to play music with.

I quickly learned there wasn't as much old-time music here as in Seattle. Seattle had the G-Note Tavern. Seattle had the Gypsy Gyppos. Seattle had Sandy Bradley and Hank Bradley and Mark Gapanoff and Nancy Katz and Mike Schway and Barbara Lamb and Mark O'Connor. Boulder had ... uh ... uh ...

By dumb luck, I found Anita Dolen and Ray Chatfield and Teri Rasmussen, and we had us a band. Anita christened us "The Grange Hall Flyers."

Pretty soon, the Flyers got an invitation to play at a music festival in Elizabeth, Colorado. I'd never been to a music festival before, and I went with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Were we going to knock everyone's socks off? Were we going to be embarrassingly bad? Would I find any other old-time musicians?

Watching the Morris troupe made the nervousness evaporate. Every time their musicians got something wrong they'd stop and redo the notes they'd missed. Soon, I'd decided we'd do fine, but we wouldn't find anyone new to play with.

Then, Geary Baese and Richard Jones stepped up to the mikes. They were on the program as "The Fiddlin' Fiddlers," a name that still sounds dumb. Without any fanfare, they ripped into a perfect, twin-fiddle, "Fisher's Hornpipe." I stopped, listened, watched, then used my right fist to push up my jaw and close my mouth.

The Flyers went next; then we all sat down to jam. Geary and Richard turned out to be fun guys to waste time with.

A few years passed and Geary was lured away into the mystic land of fiddle making. Richard still played, but moved off towards Irish and jazz. He was living a little more than an hour north and I rarely saw him.

Saturday, Ron Sommers and I were between gigs, so we wandered up to Fort Collins with Ron's girlfriend, Carol. On a lark, Ron phoned Richard.

"Hey. We're over at Starry Nights' Coffee House. Duct-tape the kids and come on down!" said Ron.

Richard and Ron both have fiddles by Geary, so once Richard showed up there was the expected amount of talk about varnishes and fiddle-geeking; we eventually got out of that and started playing tunes. It was beauteous. Plus, they didn't kick us out.

When I came back from refilling my coffee cup, Richard was putting his fiddle away.

"I'm going to a party, but you guys should come over after your gig. The party goes 4-to-4, but I'll be there until 10. We could play some more tunes."

Our 7-to-9 dance didn't end until 10, and both Joel and Ron packed up to head home. Ron said, "I know Richard. We aren't there yet, so he's left. No point in even going over."

Still, it wasn't much out of my way, so I followed Richard's vague instructions: "I don't know the address, but just go all the way to the end of 6th street. It's right there." I figured maybe I'd see balloons or an open door on one of the houses. Worst case, I'd go to the door, ask for Richard and get told he'd gone home, but get invited in for a beer anyway. 10:00 on a Saturday night in Colorado.

I got to the end of 6th and it was an event. A dead-end street blocked off with a white, rail fence at the entrance to a torch-lit field, and on the other side hundreds of people who'd been partying for six hours. The rock-and-roll band on stage was just cranking up a good "Mustang Sally."

There was an RV with folks standing around at the entrance, but I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and carrying a mandolin. At parties like this, I look like I know where I'm going. As I walked through the gate, I was thinking, "Even if Richard's still here, how would I ever find him?"

Then I looked on stage. Richard grinned over his fiddle at me, motioned with his head, and moved over to make room for me on his mike.

Thinking back on it, I'm pretty sure I'd never performed "Mustang Sally," on stage, on a mandolin, in a rock-and-roll band, before.

Wilson Pickett says, "Think you'd better slow your mustang down." I say, "Who's askin' you?"

Camels' Noses and Tents

Here the Wall Street Journal quotes ABC News as saying, "... [Judge Roberts] is generally seen as a mensch [sic]."

Given this blog's name, I think I should make John Roberts the same offer I've made attorney Ron Coleman: until he can find a good, group blog, Judge Roberts is welcome to guest-blog here whenever he likes.

It seems only fair.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

La Griffe du Reynard

This post calls La Griffe du Lion the "Zorro of Statisticians."

I'm still pondering whether the name refers to this or to this.

The Car You Really, Really Want

Okay, cars.

Make magazine just sent me a "car" issue.

It's got articles on making back-yard biodiesel, installing a Mac mini in your car, ... how to make your car geekier.

I like looking at the pictures, and I gave two people Make for Christmas, but I'm not a gizmologist, so these aren't things I'm likely to do.

I'm also not a car guy. I have a 1978 Volvo 242DL. I bought it a few years back for $500. The rust was free.

At first, I knew its exact mileage because the odometer always had the same reading. Then I took it in to an odometer shop, because I wanted to actually use it. My mechanic explained that only special, Federally-approved, odometer shops can fix odometers, because odometers need to have accurate readings -- otherwise people will roll off miles and sell the cars for more. When I got mine back, the odometer shop had rolled 100,000 miles off. Now, I could sell it for $510.00, I guess.

Other than that, it runs great. I maintain it aggressively, and my maintenance costs are low. It's just an old Volvo.

It lacks power steering and handles like a fine, European, sports tank. If someone ran into me, I might not notice. It doesn't have a little bell to remind me to turn off the headlights, so I have to jump-start my car once or twice a year. If I can roll it downhill, I put it in second, and pop the clutch instead. You could say it's not a girl's car. I could say, "Depends on the girl."

A couple of years ago, my sister Jo, the tattooed lady, called. "I've been hearing about your music festival for 15 years. Sign me up. I'm coming."

I said, "Done. What workshop are you giving?"

"I have to give a workshop?"

"Everybody has to."

I'm her brother. I just lied to her. It's what brothers are for.

"Fine," she said. "I'll be doing an art car workshop, and we're painting your car." She's been my sister for a long time.

She transformed it in an afternoon with spraypaint, a dropcloth, and an ocean of workshop participants. She says she felt like Tom Sawyer with rattlecans.

"Ooh. Can I do that, too?"

"... If you was to tackle this car and anything was to happen to it --"

Every kid wants to ride in it. Every cute babe wants to ride in it. I want to ride in it. I get notes stuck under my windshield wiper: "Cool car!"

Don't paint? Jo says, "Remember: it's cheaper to glue than to paint." Once, she covered her beater, Rusty, in rubber rats.

Don't glue? Refrigerator magnets. $500 cars have bodies made from steel. Remember steel?

Total cost? $500 and the right sister. To goose your imagination, check out the main page of the Houston Art Car Society, "Art Cars in Cyberspace."

If you try it and don't like it, remember: the car was already a junker. Give it to your favorite 17-year-old.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

When You're Hot, You're Hot

Temperature sense is relative. Line up three glasses. Fill the middle one with tepid water, the left with very hot tap water, the right with very cold. Stick your left index finger in the left, your right index finger in the right, and hold them there for a count of 100. Then plunge both at the same time into the middle glass.

My mother said she woke up shivering in New Guinea once, then laughed when she realized that it was because the temperature had plunged to 102, Farenheit.

Microsoft Frowned at for Smiley Patent

Yep, Microsoft wants to patent smileys.

Of course, not these :-), which I've been using since 1983, but the jumping, graphic, clippy-like kind.

I say, let them. Idle hands, etc.

Again With Google

What I want to know is why, on this map, is Indiana so blank.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Situation Wanted

Help this nice man out. If you can't offer him an invitation, at least pass the word. That way, if all else fails he'll end up doing a group blog with Kevin Bacon.

Meanwhile, he's certainly always welcome to guest-blog here.

Ad Campaign for Republicans?

David Aitken says this is an ad campaign for Republicans. It's an effective ad campaign for Libertarians, too, David. (Just observing, not complaining.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Making Sow's Ears from Silk Purses

I don't even care that it doesn't work all that well. Turning a spam filter into a chess robot is cool.

Just Off Camera

You can dress 'em up, but you can't take 'em out. Look at Mom's face, too: Why Bush Smirked.

Today, the Moon. Tomorrow, France.

It's sort of nice that Google Moon made it out before Google France.

It's also a nice way to mark both the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the death of James Doohan.

"God, one to beam up."

What more apposite link for this news than here: Star Trek's Scotty Dies at 85.

My brother-in-law, Tim, built a theramin. I hope that tonight, he'll pause for a minute to play the Star Trek Theme on it.

Boldly go, Scotty.

"... women, children, and Geezers"

The author of Sex Differences in Mathematical Aptitude isn't going to get invited to be president of Harvard anytime soon. I was kind of liking him for that, until I read this line in his article, Assessing the Ashkenzic IQ:
a base population for this calculation is better characterized by the total population minus women, children and geezers
How are we supposed to take someone seriously who doesn't know to capitalize "Geezers"?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Khaki Threat Level Alert

I'd expect to see something like this threat-level diagram on Protein Wisdom, but I'll take it where I find it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Times's Running Out?

From time-to-time, I point out that newspapers are tanking. No one seems to notice, except when they're trying to make some other point.

Spin it however you like: they're still tanking.

Here's the money quote, about the New York Times, from the article linked to, above:
The stock has taken a 40% dive, from its June 20, 2002 high of $52.79 to a Friday close at $31.20. The Times’ daily and Sunday circulations both declined more than 3% between March 2002 and March 2005.
This, in a period when the economy has boomed.

Two Ways to Make Cars

There are two ways to make cars. In one, you mine iron ore, smelt it, make steel,
ship it to Detroit, and hammer, weld, and paint.

In the other, you cut timber in the Pacific Northwest, load it on ships, send it to Japan, and unload the cars off the returning ships.

We shouldn't forget that there may be more than one way to turn corn into fuel, too.

Watch This Space

Slashdot reports that Google's buying up these guys: - Buy & Sell Posters, T-Shirts, and Greeting Cards.

La Plus Ca Change ...

Poet, D. S. Savage, has an interesting objection to the current war, quoted here.

Okay, it isn't actually to the current war, and it isn't interesting because it's, in any way, different from what lots of my friends would say; nevertheless, you do, too, know what I mean.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

All Our Tomorrow's

All Our Tomorrow's
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
Mr. Language Person say's, "Yes, Vanna, I'd like to buy an apostrophe, for $125."

Send This Adult to Paradise Camp

In an ecumenical spirit, I suggest we compromise with people like this.

I suggest the USMC set him up a bomb-disposal hut, where he can enter and blow himself to paradise without hurting anyone else.

Hillbilly Carnival

Don Surber is thinking of Cousin Eddy and Uncle Roger.

Friday, July 15, 2005

More maps

Here's an example of an animated, flash map. Loads too slowly for my taste: al Qaeda Attacks: A Flash Presentation.

Okay, it's, er, flashy, but speed means a lot. The contrast with Google-maps-based apps is noteworthy.


David Aitken brings us a New Bingo Game.

I think it would be an even better drinking game, but they probably won't let you bring beer into the corporate seminar room.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Study Shows One Third of All Studies Are Nonsense

Sometimes, headline writers earn their keep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What I Wouldn't Give for a Hamburger

Reading Ron Coleman's blogging about KFC, reminds me of something I learned in Bucharest.

I was talking to a software developer who'd just come back from a conference in Atlanta. The guy -- who said he'd written the first internet casino -- had taken his wife and daughter along so they could see America. Their verdict? It was interesting, but the food was all weird. If you've eaten the Romanian idea of normal -- say, slanina -- you'll know how subjective this sort of thing is. It's the New Yorker who comes back from to Rome and complains, "It's okay, but there's no good pizza."

He said, "The only normal food we could find was McDonalds and KFC."

These, like pizza and potatoes, are no longer "American fast food," they're world cuisine.

Back when we were grad students in the same lab, I remember Ian Duncan's telling me how surprised he'd been to learn that MacDonalds wasn't a Canadian company.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jack Falk

Jack and I were frosh together in college: one percent of our 200-man, incoming class. I suspect he can recount embarrassing things that I did in my late teens, but was too drunk at the time to remember now. I remember that at one point, Jack grew his hair out into an afro and dyed it blond.

Decades later, I found Jack in Portland. Now, the hair's gray, and Jack has grown himself into the zinger and klarinet shpiler for Di Naye Kapelye, the world's greatest Klezmer band.

This week, when I went to visit my sisters in Portland, Jack and his wife Reva had us over for a Shabbes dinner. Reva's apricot chicken was just featured in the Portland Oregonian, so you can only imagine.

Reb Falk
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
A couple of nights later, Uncle Yankl came over and sat in the kitchen with us. Jo's neighbor, Gary, brought over a metal clarinet that he'd found in a barn, missing a mouthpiece. Nan contributed the mouthpiece from my fourth-grade clarinet and a 40-year-old reed. Jo's husband, Tim, jury-rigged a way to hold the mouthpiece in the clarinet, and Jack attached the reed to the mouthpiece with a twist-tie.

Then we played Klezmer.

It was wonderful fun, even if Jo and I had no idea what we were doing. Don't criticize the talking dog for bad grammar, now.

If you're in Kaustinen, Finland, next week, go see Jack at the Kaustinen Folk Music festival.

this is an audio post - click to play

Animated Maps

Map technology on the web is exploding. Here, for example, an animated map of Iraq War Fatalities makes the strategic role of the Sunni triangle pretty obvious.

The $5 Candy Jar

Right down the street from Powell's Bookstore, in Portland, is Spartacus Leathers. After our expedition to Powell's, last weekend, my sister Jo, the tattooed lady, insisted we go to Spartacus. I got to ask the clerk things like, "Okay. I give up. What's this?" And then I'd turn the item over and discover that it also cost $347.95.

The $5 Candy Jar
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.

The shoe section was patent-leather shoes that I couldn't imagine anyone could even get on, much less stand up in. Knowing that even regular shoes are expensive, I wasn't shocked when I turned them over and looked at the price tags. At least, not until I turned one pair over and saw they'd been marked down five times.

$10 for the pair.

I turned to Jo and told her I'd split the cost with her. We each took one shoe. A pencil cup? A planter? I don't know what Jo's going to do with hers, but here's mine.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

For Your Mortgage Need's

For Your Mortgage Need's
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.

We continue our "Mr. Language Person" photoblogging theme.

Why Didn't I Think of That?

Fundable is one of those ideas that makes me say, "I should've thought of that!"

Inside Adrian Legg,

autopsies will reveal this, however the guitar will need to be replaced by a cheap Ovation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sean Reifschneider

Sean Reifschneider
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
Sean controls the lasers on's death star from a corner table at Caffe Sole.
this is an audio post - click to play

Lyn Has a Sudden Realization

Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
"I'm sitting on what?"

Guess we'll have to get those clothes off.

A Cob Wall

Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
This is a cob wall, where "cob" is an old English synonym for "loaf." How they get "loaf" from "mud," and why Oregon rain doesn't make that a synonym for "slime," is just one of those mysteries.

Putting the "Chain" into Chain-Link Fences

Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
If you're a building-supply recycling center, what do you do with tools that no one wants? One thing you can do is fence them.

more fence
Originally uploaded by goyishekop.

Let the Sun Shine In

Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
In Oregon, it's cloudy a lot. Having lots of windows let you get as much sun as possible.

The Purpose of an Apostrophe

Originally uploaded by goyishekop.
Mr. Language Person says, "The purpose of an apostrophe is to let the reader know an 's' is coming."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ars gratia, uh, ...

This is intended to speak for itself.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Real Thumb Drives

I don't know what it is, but there's something fishy about these USB key drives.