Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Lounging on the Ice Mattress

A recent poem by Crystallyn goes like this:

The Eyes Begin to Draw Stars

They told me about it, their voices calm,
music low; it was snowing outside.
I didn't hear them.
I was watching the way the water fell--
a frozen shower of winter stars,
layering sparkles of white on
the ice-topped canal.
I thought it was like a fluffy blanket--
maybe I could crawl under and curl
up, fishes dreaming beneath my
mattress of ice, the sound of
duck wings whirring me to sleep.

I like this poem a lot. I like the image of the mattress of ice, and reading such a wintry poem on a warm Spring day like this is the next best thing to air conditioning. I can imagine the poem also working without the "I didn't hear them" line, though omitting it might change the emphasis a bit.

Does Garlic Cheese Bread Have the Buddha-Nature?

Dale writes about the concept of "enlightenment."
It's curious how much attention people who don't practice in the Buddhist tradition give to the concept of "enlightenment," and how little people who do practice give it. You would think it would be the other way around: that those people who are most interested in enlightenment would be those who would most want to practice. But in fact a dead giveaway of a person who's new to Buddhist practice is that they have lots of questions about enlightenment. Does it include this? Does it look like that? And of course what the questions give you is a precise map of their obsessive cravings and fears. Does it include romantic love? Oral sex? Garlic cheese bread? Does it look like loneliness? Boredom? Indifference?

If enlightenment doesn't include anchovies, you can keep it.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Web browser text replacement

Why not have a web browser feature that can do on-the-fly search and replace of keywords in the content? The user could supply a custom list of words or phrases and their replacements. This would be pretty easy to do, and could have a wide variety of uses.

Doublespeak Replacement: Set it to automatically replace the phrase "security contractors" with "mercenaries," and so on. The news might seem realistic again.

Spin Generator: This type of list would add "flavor" by replacing neutral terms with more charged ones.

Foul language eliminator: Make the Web PG-13! Replace "hell" with "heck," or replace c********* with "scoundrel."

Medievalizer: Replace "the" with "ye," "you" with "thou," etc.

Compressor: Replace wordy phrases with shorter ones. Replace "at this point in time" with "now," etc.

Super compressor: Replace "You know what I'm saying?" and "At the end of the day," with ""

How about it? Will we see this in some future version of Mozilla?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Amity Vineyards 2001 Oregon Dry Riesling

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The name does not lie, this is a very dry Riesling. I am not normally a fan of Rieslings, and maybe that has something to do with why I like this wine so much. It is a perfect wine for the hot Spring weather we've been having here in Portland. If you enjoy a "crisp" refreshing wine, give this a try.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

U.S. 5, Brazil 1 (Women's Soccer)

Mia Hamm proved she is still one of the world's top players today with one goal and three assists. Mia showed she can beat Brazil in nearly every aspect of the game. She can set up goals with free kicks, she can dribble past defenders along the wing, she can place a one-touch pass at a teammate's feet in the penalty box, and she can score goals.

Abby Wambach played only the first half but scored two goals and could easily have had a hat trick if she had played the rest of the game. She may be the most dangerous U.S. player in the air.

For me, the surprise of the game was Christie Rampone, who had an outstanding game for the U.S. on defense. She looked rock-solid and turned back attack after attack by Brazil.

Brazil's players made many good individual runs, but seemed unable to connect on the last pass to set up a scoring chance. Oddly, Brazil kept trying the long ball and high crosses all day long without success. Their only goal was set up by a bad clearance by the U.S. defense.

Kristin Luckenbill came in as a substitute goalkeeper in the second half, her first appearance for the U.S. National Team, but was not called on to do much because the ball was so often at the other end of the field.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Rust Reversal

A fountain downtown used to be covered with a layer of rust, which added a wistful quality of decay, bringing to mind the passage of time and the impermanence of all things.

I walked by today and saw that the fountain has been cleaned up. It now looks like a bunch of shiny silver boxes. But I think it looks much worse. It is boring now. There is nothing "there" when I look at it any more. Maybe part of the fun will be watching the rust slowly reappear, though. How long will it take?

Now look what you've done!

Free Image Hosting by ZippyImages.comWhat do you do when some of your fellow citizens get taken hostage by terrorists, threatened with execution, then finally released? Well, in Japan you blame the victims for causing a problem and send them a hefty bill. As the story explains:
"You got what you deserve!" read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. "You are Japan's shame," another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had "caused trouble" for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.

[. . .] Treated like criminals, the three former hostages have gone into hiding, effectively becoming prisoners inside their own homes. The kidnapped woman, Nahoko Takato, was last seen arriving at her parents' house, looking defeated and dazed from tranquilizers, flanked by relatives who helped her walk and bow deeply before reporters, as a final apology to the nation.

Dr. Satoru Saito, a psychiatrist who examined the three former hostages twice since their return, said the stress they were enduring now was "much heavier" than what they experienced during their captivity in Iraq.

The issue seems to be that they ignored a Japanese government warning advising them not to travel to Iraq. Oops.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Skateboarding Dog: Must-See Video!

Oh. My. God. This is the best video I've ever seen on the Internet. This dog can skateboard really, really well! Click on the link to the video. (via ApeChild)

Enjoy or Suffer

LanguageLog, quoting Agoraphilia, comments on how "enjoy" and "suffer from" are new variants on "have." As in, for example, "Americans enjoy the right to vote," or "Many Americans suffer from stress-related illness." But reading this post, I couldn't help but construct an imaginary dialogue:

"Do you enjoy a computer?"

"Actually, I suffer from a Windows ME machine."

Mercenaries in Iraq, part 2

Like I said, they are mercenaries. (New York Times, site requires free registration.) Quote:
[. . .] they are there, racing about Iraq in armored cars, many outfitted with the latest in high-end combat weapons. Some security companies have formed their own "Quick Reaction Forces," and their own intelligence units that produce daily intelligence briefs with grid maps of "hot zones." One company has its own helicopters, and several have even forged diplomatic alliances with local clans.

Far more than in any other conflict in United States history, the Pentagon is relying on private security companies to perform crucial jobs once entrusted to the military.

[. . .] more and more, they give the appearance of private, for-profit militias — by several estimates, a force of roughly 20,000 on top of an American military presence of 130,000.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

During the drive home

While listening to a CD of flamenco singing on the car stereo.

Me: Did he just say 'La Vida Loca?'

Her: It's hard to tell, they slur their words in this kind of singing.

Me: Originally that was due to drunkenness, but now it's just part of the "style."

Her (unsure if I'm joking): No, I mean in this dialect of Spanish, they slur their words more.

Me: Originally that was due to drunkenness, but now it's considered an "official dialect."

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Malice, Stupidity, and Much Much More

Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Iron Monkey's After-Shave: Never attribute to malice or stupidity that which can be adequately explained by the complexity or ambiguity of the underlying situation.

Freddy Adu's first professional goal

Freddy Adu's first pro goal came in the 75th minute of today's MLS game between DC United and the Metrostars. It was a quirky goal, and I had to watch the replay a few times to figure out exactly what happened. Josh Gros dribbled down the left wing, tightly marked by a defender. He beat his man with a low, slow cross. The ball came straight for a second defender who slipped and fell down without being able to block it. Then a third defender ran right past the ball, perhaps not expecting it to make it that far. Freddy Adu took advantage of the opportunity and scored easily from about 3 yards out. The odd nature of the goal should not take anything away from Adu's performance, though. He positioned himself in the right place to take advantage of a mistake by the opposition.

Soccer Rant

Why are on-target shots so hard to come by in soccer? In basketball, where the target is only slightly larger than the ball, most shots either score or at least hit the rim. Yet in soccer, where the target is roughly 100 times bigger than the ball, a large percentage of shots go wide by yards or sail high above the crossbar. I played soccer in school, and of course not all of my shots were on-target either, but I wasn't a professional; can't the pros learn not to shoot 10 feet above the crossbar? With a lot of the shots I've seen today, the role of goalkeeper could have been played by a cardboard cutout of William Shatner for all the difference it would have made.

Treachery in the Home

One of our cats, whom we suspect of clawing the furniture when we aren't looking, has earned himself the new nickname Osama Been Clawin'.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Mercenaries in Iraq

According to The Guardian:
It is thought up to 10,000 "security consultants" - who critics say would be more accurately described as mercenaries - are working in Iraq, on salaries at anything between £600 and £3,000 a day.

I'm getting really tired of hearing about how a bunch of guys with guns patrolling a war zone are "consultants." Come on, a consultant is a guy in a suit who shows you a Powerpoint presentation and babbles about enhancing productivity and adding value. A guy who carries automatic weapons and provides "security" during a war is a mercenary.

Now, I'm not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with being a mercenary, or with using mercenaries. Mercenaries have been around for thousands of years, probably for as long as there have been wars, and now they have become "corporate warriors". But I think it is ridiculous to try to sugar-coat everything with doublespeak. To see how silly the term "consultants" really is in this context, try it out in a sentence like this: "The Roman Empire needed more manpower to defend its borders, so it employed the Visigoths as consultants." Yeah, that's the perfect term.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

How not to use ladders

The Naval Safety Center web site has some amusing pictures of what not to do, including this one of a guy who didn't have a long enough ladder, so he balanced smaller ladders on top of each other. (via This Is Broken)

New cocktail

Here's my latest cocktail creation, the "Xander" (named after the character on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer):

  • 1 part Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 3 parts Skyy Vanilla vodka
  • 3 parts Lemon Perrier

Shake the vodka and Godiva with ice and strain into martini glasses. Then add the Perrier and stir.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Howard Sherman's blog has an article about small local amusement parks. When I was a kid here in Portland, the local park that we loved was Oaks Park, on the East bank of the Willamette River. Though my father did not like amusement parks, he was nice enough to take me and my brother there occasionally. Oaks Park also had roller skating, and one area of the floor had some undulating bumps, kind of like waves.

Though the Oaks Park of my youth didn't have the huge, spectacular rides that some of the nationally known parks had, it was still great fun, and the convenience of it (only a 15 minute drive from home) was very appealing.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Freddy Adu Report, part 2

Freddy Adu played all of the second half of today's MLS soccer match between D.C. United and Los Angeles. Freddy made some good moves and created scoring chances. Probably one of the most effective tactics for a flashy, much-hyped new player is to lure multiple defenders to himself and then pass the ball off to an open teammate. And he will draw defenders, because no team wants to look bad by letting a 14-year-old score goals on them. If Freddy can get comfortable with this role, at least in the short term, he can probably wind up with a few assists. Freddy took a shot from inside the penalty box in the 90th minute, but the LA keeper stopped the shot.

The spectacular play of the day actually went to LA's Ruiz, who whirled around at the top of the box in the 85th minute and scored a goal that brought his team even at 1-1. LA had a good chance to win the game in injury time, but could not convert, so the game ended in a 1-1 draw.


I took a day-trip to Cannon Beach today, and saw this landsailer getting ready to go. It wasn't extremely windy, but there was enough wind for this vehicle to cruise around.
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The water at the Oregon coast is extremely cold, so people find other things to do at the beach that don't involve getting in the water. I only saw a few people wading in, and I saw one guy in a full wetsuit surfing.


In today's MLS soccer match between Chicago and San Jose, the ESPN2 announcer explained that DaMarcus Beasley's dive near the penalty box was "a smart play" after "he looked up and didn't have any options." I think this is horrible announcing. A truly smart play would have been to either dribble past the defender and score a goal, or pass the ball off to someone else and try to get open. When a player can't beat his defender and tries to make up for it by theatrics, this is not a "smart play." It cheapens the game, and ought to be penalized by the referee.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Soma is that rare, elusive type of band that manages to be the perfect down-tempo, chill-out music, yet without being boring or depressing. Whenever I play this, people ask, "wow, what IS this?" Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


Since getting Tivo, I've been watching a lot more documentaries. The History Channel is now one of my favorites. What does this have to do with Tivo? I think the connection is that I probably don't want to watch a whole documentary at one sitting, especially if it is an hour or longer. But if I can watch at my own pace, a little at a time, I love documentaries.

Futon potato

I thought I was getting pretty good at meditation, but then I realized I was just sitting around.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Kickin' out the jams

My girlfriend is out of town on a business trip, which means that I can listen to music at the satisfyingly high volume levels that God intended when He inspired man to invent the amplifier. If the soles of my feet can't detect the floor shaking, my mind clouds with doubt that I'm getting my money's worth out of my stereo system.

Anyway, this reminded me of a quote from the May '04 issue of Cycle World. Someone had written a letter asking about vibration in motorcycles, and the answer said (in part):
[ . . . ] There are some frequencies that everybody loves and others that everybody hates, but there's also a lot of frequencies whose impact is not so cut-and-dried. Depending upon many physical factors, including size, weight, bone structure and body density, some riders find certain frequencies bothersome or even debilitating while other riders do not.

When designing the C5 Corvette in the 1990s, General Motors conducted extensive research in this field. Those studies found that the previous generation of 'Vettes had natural resonant frequencies that went unnoticed by most men but tended to have an unpleasant effect on large numbers of women. Further research then attributed this phenomenon to the simple fact that most female bodies fall within a significantly different range of resonant frequencies than those of most men. As a result, the engineers spent huge amounts of development time and money "tuning" the C5 chassis to avoid the frequency ranges that annoy females while still allowing most males to receive the kind of sensory input they prefer.

This may answer two mysteries that I've long wondered about: why so many women dislike 80's Corvettes, and why men and women often disagree about loud music. (My girlfriend does occasionally listen to quite loud music, but it is a different type of music than what I usually play, so it may accentuate a different frequency range.)

When I think of Corvettes, I always think of the unintentionally-hilarious movie Corvette Summer, starring Mark Hamill.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

My conversation with Catty

The following is my actual conversation with the Bot called Catty, which I found via Collision Detection.

You: tell me a story
Cat: previous random next never let your barber tell you a story

You: so the story is about a barber?
Cat: the story his father tells him is about a so-called beautiful maiden

You: what makes her so beautiful?
Cat: the myths also state that a large city once stood here which was so beautiful the gods became jealous and sent a flood that swallowed it up entirely in a single day...

You: sounds like an Ark would be nice to have
Cat: it would be nice to have something happen

You: ok, so back to the story. What happens to the maiden?
Cat: ha ha ha anyway back to the story :)

You: Yes. Tell me about the maiden.
Cat: wild women wild women now i cdont want you folks to misconstrue what fim about to say to you but im cgonna tell you about the g7women in my clife

You: She was wil.d
Cat: mashi did nassur ever tell you about when he recognized his wife

You: she was his wife?
Cat: despite the fact that his wife also came from a noble family according to the biographical sources she was immoral and committed shameful debaucheries and therefore gangolf had to flee :0

You: And his name was Gangolf. Sounds like Gandalf.
Cat: his name was eurybates and ulysses treated him with greater familiarity than he did any of the others as being the most like-minded with himself

You: Are we on the Odyssey now?
Cat: since belshazzar was the subordinate of nabonidus his name was forgotten because the ancient babylonian and greek historians were primarily interested in the reigns of the official kings :-(

You: This story is complicated.
Cat: if this story is relocated please leave my name intact as the author and please include my email address? ;)

You: Tell me more about the King.
Cat: here is a link to a page that will tell you more about resource types.

You: Did you see Return of the King, by the way?
Cat: click here to read more about the edition history of the text :*

You: I like Lord of the Rings
Cat: legolas the elf in the lord of the rings trilogy :(

You: I like Gandalf better then Legolas
Cat: but one of the great things about the lord of the rings is the fact that they are very grounded in character and relationship

You: You are right. Also Lord of the Rings creates a believable world.

Cat: just as lord of the rings did earlier this year a great movie has brought parents and kids together in shared family entertainment :>

You: What about Batman?
Cat: kekez i still havent see lord of the rings sweatdrop and i have exams

You: Spiderman?
Cat: i do not know if the new star wars movie will beat out lord of the rings...

You: No, it won't. Lord of the Rings will rule them all.
Cat: what follows is a rather disturbing introduction to the race of morlocks an underground lord of the rings ork-like creature? :P

You: But the Morlocks were from H.G. Wells.
Cat: if they were from england their vocals might actually match :*

You: I guess in a way the Morlocks were from England. They probably played cricket.
Cat: my son attended a britannia soccer camp a few years back and the instructors all from england used the term and again to initiate a wall pass

Freddy Adu's Soccer Debut in the MLS

A sellout crowd for MLS opening day in D.C. got to see 14 year old Freddy Adu, the youngest player in MLS history, and the youngest person to play on a professional team in the U.S. in over 100 years. Adu did not start the game, but came on as a substitute in the second half. DC United hosted the San Jose Earthquakes.

In the first half, DC United had a free kick outside the left corner of the penalty area, and Jaime Moreno scored the first goal on a header to put DC up 1-0.

A few minutes later, the referee awarded San Jose a penalty kick after DC's keeper Nick Rimando fouled Brian Mullan as both players charged toward the ball. This call may have been a bit controversial, since Rimando was going for the ball, and arguably the contact was unintentional and incidental. But as I see it, the problem with Rimando's play was that he made no effort to avoid striking Mullan. Rimando went for the ball and missed, but afterwards he kept his arm extended and so his follow-through struck Mullan in the upper chest and neck area. Ekelund converted the penalty kick with a hard shot into the upper left corner of the net and tied the score at 1-1.

A few minutes later DC's Eskandarian scored on a low shot that went in off the right goalpost, with an assist by Moreno. This put DC up 2-1.

In the second half, DC almost scored a third goal when Bobby Convey went on a breakaway and dribbled past the goalkeeper, but his shot at the open net just barely missed wide left.

In the 58th minute, DC's Moreno beat 2 defenders and dribbled all the way to the goal line then shot from an impossible angle. The ball deflected off a defender's leg and into the net, but the referee signaled no goal, claiming that the ball had been out of bounds across the goal line before Moreno shot. Instant replay showed that the ball was not completely over the line and so it was still in bounds. The goal should have counted.

In the 61st minute, Freddy Adu came onto the field as a substitute. He played a calm and sensible game, without trying anything too fancy.

Landon Donovan almost tied the game in the 65th minute with a shot from the top of the area, but an acrobatic save by Rimando prevented the tying goal.

The game ended on an unpleasant note with two players getting red cards: one in the 76th minute to San Jose's Waibel for a dangerous tackle on Moreno, then another in the 80th minute to Kovalenko (DC) for elbowing.

The final score was 2-1 in favor of DC United.

Comments are back

I've finally turned comments back on for this site.