Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Actual workplace quote:

Female employee (holding some papers): "Are you ready to delve into my minutiae?"

Male employee: "Well . . . uh . . . I'm married . . ."

Monday, June 28, 2004

Unlikeliest quotes

My girlfriend (reading an article about Feng Shui): "This is a whole different approach to the bagua."

Me: "You know, that's one of those sentences I never thought I'd hear you say. That, and 'I've got to level up tonight.'"

Iron Monkey's Law of Project Risk

The amount of risk in projects tends to remain constant over time. Let R be the "customary" amount of risk. If a new methodology, technology, strategy, or resource could be used to reduce the risk of typical projects to below R, it will be used instead to do more ambitious projects with risk R.

Though the above wording is my own creation, the idea is nothing new. It is just a special case of the theory of risk homeostasis:
Risk Homeostasis Theory maintains that, in any activity, people accept a certain level of subjectively estimated risk to their health, safety, and other things they value, in exchange for the benefits they hope to receive from that activity (transportation, work, eating, drinking, drug use, recreation, romance, sports or whatever).[8]

In any ongoing activity, people continuously check the amount of risk they feel they are exposed to. They compare this with the amount of risk they are willing to accept, and try to reduce any difference between the two to zero. Thus, if the level of subjectively experienced risk is lower than is acceptable, people tend to engage in actions that increase their exposure to risk. If, however, the level of subjectively experienced risk is higher than is acceptable, they make an attempt to exercise greater caution.

So the amount of risk on projects will tend to stay the same over time. When people adopt methods that "reduce risk," the real effect will be to attempt to do more with less, in less time, with about the same risk. Just as with cars:
Adding anti-lock brakes to a car, for example doesn’t reduce accidents. Aware of their greater braking ability, drivers follow more closely and drive faster on slick streets.

Koi, Portland Chinese Garden

Koi at the Portland Chinese Garden Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Roses in my garden, 6:30pm. See also these other bloggers' flower photos: anemone, lavender, lily.  Posted by Hello

How to Pick Up a Garden Hose

  1. Relax your arms and let them hang freely.
  2. Slide your foot under the hose at a spot about 6 feet from the free end of the hose.
  3. Flex your ankle and toes in order to "hook" the hose.
  4. Lift your foot up and slightly to the outside of your knee as if you're going to scratch the bottom of your foot with your same-side hand.
  5. Grasp the hose with your hand.

Perform the whole sequence without bending over at all. It looks better, and the whole point is to avoid needing to bend over. Practice until the move becomes automatic.

Gardening needs more "trick moves" like this. Then it can be an Extreme Sport.

Summer Party Quotes

"What are you doing . . . shots of olive oil?" (on seeing shot glasses full of a golden liquid that was actually whiskey)

"I lie up about my age, because if I say I'm 50, then people are like, oooohh, that bitch is hot for 50!"

"Looks like you owe $138.45, plus tax, plus convenience fee, plus handling charge, plus chopstick rental, plus wasabi tax, plus chair lease, plus security background check fee, plus translation fee for converting part of the menu into English." (After eating sushi)

"I'm tired of this velveeta-like fondue." "You mean the fondeeta?" "Fondeeta . . . that sounds like a cheesy dominatrix."

"You want a boat? What would you do with a boat?" "What kind of stupid question is that? What do you mean what would I do with a boat?" "Well, what would you do with a boat?" "Take it out to a lake and sit in it." "So, then a boat is just a floating couch!" "What would you do with a boat?" "Sink it! Look, after a few weeks, you'll be so bored of it, you'll pay someone to haul it away!" "Yeah, even though I have 64 payments left."

"Now that would be fun to see . . . a stripper clown."

"After a few drinks I speak foreign languages better." "Yeah, I know what you mean. When I've been drinking I speak fluent gibberish!"

"Are you going to have a bachelor party?" "Why would I need a bachelor party? For me, every day is a bachelor party!"

"So then he walked in with his . . . trophy acquaintance."

"I don't like it when people call their significant other their partner." "OK, then let's call what we have a coalition of the willing."

"Do you have anything I can open this package with?" "Well, I have a weed-eater!"

(See also the Summer Drink Recipe)

Next series: Fall Party Quotes.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The bees are busy in the blooming Walla Walla Sweet onions. Posted by Hello
Selected flower photos from photo.net: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine, in a container on my back deck. These survived the winter even though we got some snow.  Posted by Hello

Red Cardinal

"Red Cardinal" from New Zealand - clianthus puniceus. Posted by Hello
I like tomatoes, but not tomato juice. Tomato juice is too much like drinking a pizza.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

RFID Dumpster Diving

In the future, if most products contain RFID tags, it will be possible (with the right "reader") to know what discarded items are in a dumpster from a distance, without having to look inside. It will be possible to do a variation on wardriving where you search for physical objects instead of wi-fi access. With the right software, you could even create a "wish list" of the objects you want and get notified if they are nearby.

I need a pair of headphones, notify me know when one is nearby. [Bleep!] Hey, look, someone must have thrown away a pair of headphones in that garbage can over there! Score!

I need to borrow a bottle opener . . . [bleep!] . . . signal coming from over there . . . "Excuse me, sir . . ."

But there are weirder uses for this. Burglars could find out what is in your house without going inside. Passers-by could find out what brand of underwear you're wearing. People driving by your house could learn which books are on your shelf. It will be a strange world.

Mutant Kid Has Super-Strength

BERLIN, June 24 (Reuters) - A German toddler has massive muscles and can lift far heavier weights than other kids his age because of a natural genetic mutation, Markus Schuelke, a neurology specialist in Berlin, said on Thursday.

I knew it! I knew X-Men was a thinly disguised documentary!
Flower art of the day: up close, Niugini flowers, and frozen.

Net Metaphors

Erika talks about metaphors for the internet notes the "exploration" theme in browser names like Inernet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Safari, and then invents a new one:
We got to wondering about other potential metaphors could be used, and we realized, what with it being the web and all, that there was an unexploited weaving metaphor available. And just last night, the perfect name for a web browser popped into my head: Shuttle.

The shuttle, of course, is the thing that holds the weft as it is carried along, moving back and forth and under and over and all around the warp threads held by the loom.

To me, the web site creator might be a weaver, but the person who browses is more like the fly than the spider. What about other metaphors? The aimless, wandering nature of some web browsing might lend itself to a hobo metaphor, like NetVagrant or Internet Stumblebum. Searching through all the garbage on the web, hoping to find some cool free stuff to download could be called dumpster diving the net.

Almost anything would be an improvement on the popular surfing metaphor for browsing the web. Real surfing involves coordination, timing, balance, and athleticism, not to mention potential drowning and shark bites. Clicking on hyperlinks is nothing like surfing, and the wi-fi surfboard is even less useful than the Internet toilet roll browser and Net cutting board.

My favorite metaphor for web browsing is fishing. You're not sure what kind of information you will "catch", but it's a fun way to pass the time even if you don't catch anything good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

How to Act Like a Chimp

If you're going to act like a monkey, you might as well strive for accuracy and get all the details right. This BBC News article explains how to act like a chimpanzee. Excerpt:
AUTHORITY: Usually used by males in a group to show who's boss. Make as much noise as possible, while brandishing objects so as to appear bigger.

GREETING: Extend arm with open fist, relax mouth but keep teeth covered, no direct eye contact. Pair with short, throaty "huh huh" pant.

Huh huh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A Maze of Twisty Little Passages

Peter at Slow Reads has a recent post about the fragmenting of our culture, in which he notes:
[ . . .] as a society, we share fewer stories, myths, and other core information [. . . ]

This is true. We are in a maze of twisty little subcultures, all different. We have more choices (and more diversity) than ever before. I consider more choice to be a good thing, but it also means that the more choices there are, the less likely that two people will make the same choices, and we will find less overlap between people's experiences.

My parents' generation had certain choices of music to listen to. But most of that music is still available to me today. I can choose from all of their music, plus all of the music created since then. The same thing goes for movies, books, etc. Although some things do go out of print, in general the choices keep growing.

This reminds me of the difference between today and the Golden Age of video gaming. In the Golden Age, there were not very many games to choose from, so everyone had played most of the same ones. Gamers had a lot of "shared experience" because everyone had played Asteroids, Missile Command, Frogger, Pac Man, and other classic games. Today, we have a lot more choices, so the gaming culture is more fragmented. The gamer who follows the Final Fantasy series may not have much to talk about with the person who has played every Tekken game, and they both might share awkward silences with the gamer who loves the Madden football games or Tiger Woods Golf. Not only that, but now there are PC gamers, Xbox gamers, PS2 gamers, PS1 gamers, Gamecube gamers, Gameboy Advance gamers, and many more varieties.

More choices create cultural fragmentation. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing. There are fewer shared experiences, but there are more fun experiences to choose from. I guess I don't mind being in a maze of twisty little passages, all different, as long as I'm having fun.


Lavender from my garden. Posted by Hello


Fuchsia, in a container on my back deck. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 20, 2004


A male black-chinned hummingbird has been spending some time around my back deck. I haven't been able to get a picture of him yet. He comes around to feed from the fuchsia and lavender.

If I were an anime character, I might look like this. Created with this online icon designerPosted by Hello

Bloglines Mobile

I'm amazed at how well Bloglines works on mobile devices like my Treo 600. I hadn't tried it out until today. Since I can now read blogs from anywhere, this gets me even closer to becoming the Blorg.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


Jostaberry from my garden. Posted by Hello

Things get busy in the chicane, during the Rose Cup Races at Portland International RacewayPosted by Hello

A Spin in the Chicane

"Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" A spin in the chicane does not turn out well, during the Rose Cup Races at PIRPosted by Hello

Friday, June 18, 2004

Champions of Norrath Multiplayer Tips

A good multiplayer strategy for Champions of Norrath is to have one player act as a Blocker (by holding down Block, naturally) while the other stands behind the blocker and shoots arrows over his shoulder. The blocker blocks hand-to-hand attacks and prevents the monsters from reaching the archer. Against most normal attacks, the blocker will take no damage while blocking.

You might think that a tough barbarian would be the ideal blocker, but actually a wizard makes a great blocker, because the wizard can also use an area attack spell such as fire storm or ice storm, then start blocking as soon as the spell starts. You can't cast a "continuous" spell like cone of fire while blocking, because as soon as you start blocking the cone of fire will stop. But area spells like fire storm keep working after you release the spell button.

Sometimes monsters will be smart enough to walk around the blocker, so the best place to use this strategy is in a narrow hallway or in front of a door, so the monsters don't have enough room to get around. I think of the blocker as the "Offensive Lineman" and the archer as the "Quarterback" in this strategy.

If you are a wizard, the Root spell is great for multiplayer. At high levels the root spell can immobilize multiple enemies while the rest of the team attacks them.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Yarrow. Most of it eventually turned white but in this one you can see some of the original pink color. Posted by Hello

Hydrangea from my garden Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Please Explain This To Me

If, as the saying goes, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," then what is the insincerest form of flattery?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Treo 600 review

This review of the Treo 600 states:
You work out some variations of two-thumbed and one-handed typing, depending on what your other hand may be doing and how important it is not to drop your Treo on the ground.

Um . . . is it just me, or is that kind of funny?

Smoky Somethin'

"Why do you think you're such a smoky somethin' when you're nothin' painted blue?!?!" -- Jody, in Kitten With A Whip

Rose with Striped Grass

Rose with striped grass, from my garden. This is a giant grass that is about 6 feet tall. But I don't know the species.  Posted by Hello

Japanese Flower Blog

A flower blog in Japan, from one of my readers.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Improving the Rules of Soccer

I've been a soccer fan all my life, and although I love the game, one thing about the rules has always bothered me. The penalties for fouls do not seem to be balanced quite right. A free kick from inside your own half of the field is basically worthless, except for the fact that you get posession of the ball. The rules do not provide enough of a deterrent against committing fouls far from your own goal.

A free kick near your own goal is essentially like a goal kick. But this does not seem fair, since tripping or elbowing someone (for example) is a more serious offense than merely kicking the ball out of bounds. A really flagrant foul anywhere on the field might result in a yellow or red card, of course, but this is rare, and it still does not deter players from committing minor fouls far from their own goal just to slow down the game, run out the clock, or annoy opponents.

For a while I pondered the idea of adding hockey-style penalties in soccer, where the offender would have to leave the field and sit in a penalty box for 2 minutes. This might work, but it would be a hassle to administer, and the idea does not feel true to the spirit of soccer.

Instead, I thought up a new rule that is simple to understand, easy to administer, and does not introduce any new type of penalty. I propose that when the referee awards a free kick, the team awarded the kick can choose to either take the kick at the spot where it would normally occur, or to take a throw-in from anywhere on the field that they choose.

This way, instead of taking a free kick from deep in your own territory, you could choose to take a throw-in closer to the opponent's goal. If you felt you would be better off with the kick, perhaps because it would provide a quicker restart, then you could still choose to take the kick. I think this rule would cut down on so-called "professional fouls" by increasing the consequences of fouls committed far from your own goal.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Michelle posted some good "flower porn" on her blog. Hmm, is "flower porn" the official name for it now?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Truth: Less Helpful Than Fiction?

The most accurate answer may not be the most helpful. Suppose we are on the tenth floor of a building and you ask, "what's the quickest way to get back down to the street?" I could give you the correct answer: "the quickest way would be to throw a chair through that window over there and then jump through it." Or I could give you an answer that is technically incorrect, but much more useful: "go down to the end of the hallway, take a right, and take the elevator."

Computers can be maddening because they tend to give you the literally true answer that is useless, instead of the "wrong" answer that is useful.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Homemade Tanks Don't Smash Buildings, People Smash Buildings

The big news in Colorado is about one man's rampage in an armored bulldozer:
A muffler shop owner who plowed a makeshift armored bulldozer into several buildings after a dispute with city officials was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after a SWAT team cut their way into the machine early Saturday, authorities said.

[. . .] Heemeyer plowed the armor-plated bulldozer into the town hall, a former mayor's home and at least five other buildings Friday before the machine ground to a halt in the wreckage of a warehouse.

OK, but somebody doesn't make their own tank over nothing, there must have been a good reason, right?
City officials said he was angry over a zoning dispute and fines for city code violations at his business in the town about 50 miles west of Denver.

Oh, sure that explains it. But how good could a homemade tank be, anyway? We pay billions to defense contractors to make real tanks, which proves that a tank some guy made in his garage in his spare time couldn't be very useful, right?
Authorities detonated three explosions and fired at least 200 rounds against the heavy steel plates welded to the bulldozer, which looked like an upside down Dumpster. After the third explosion failed, officials used a cutting torch to open the square-foot hole early Saturday, county Emergency Management Director Jim Holahan said.

[. . .] Undersheriff Glen Trainor said the dozer's armor plates consisted of two sheets of half-inch steel with a layer of concrete between them.

[. . .] One officer, later identified as Trainor, was perched on top, firing shot after shot into the top and once dropping an explosive down the exhaust pipe. "He just kept shooting," Moore said. "The dozer was still going. He threw what looked like a flash-bang down the exhaust. It didn't do a thing."

OK, here's the problem: this guy has seriously upped the ante in the urban arms race. Until recently, we honest citizens only needed guns to defend our homes and loved ones against armed criminals. But now, it seems, we need our own tanks just to keep up. This will be quite an expense, but it's the least we can do for the common good. I can't wait until the next armored-bulldozer-driving kook goes on a rampage, only to be engaged by the Neighborhood Watch Tank Platoon and blown to smithereens. That will definitely keep me entertained, at least until we all get Mechs.

Mowed Down by the Plastic Grass

Playing soccer on artificial turf is like playing racketball inside a grass hut. It's just wrong. The ball bounces wrong. The players even run a bit oddly.

I'm hoping the turf explains the U.S. women's soccer team only managing a 1-1 tie against Japan on Sunday. If not, they are going to be in for some trouble in the Olympics. Japan played a great game defensively, using their speed to double and triple-team against the U.S. attack. For some reason, the U.S. kept trying to advance the ball up the wing, where the attack would usually get smothered by 2 or 3 Japanese defenders.

I kept wanting to see the signs that the U.S. would be on their way to Olympic gold, but instead I saw what looked like a vastly improved Japanese team creating all kinds of space on the field. The tied score is misleading. This was a game Japan could have won, if not for some great saves by the U.S. keepers. I'm hoping the U.S. can improve in time for Athens.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The day lilies are blooming early this year. Posted by Hello

Meow If You Like Green Tea

 Posted by Hello

The Numbers Game

e-Claire notes that Ray Bradbury is upset with Michael Moore for "stealing" his title. That is, Bradbury thinks that Fahrenheit 911 is a "stolen" copy of the title of his book, Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury is quoted as saying, "He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission."

That reminds me of how 12 Angry Men stole the title of Seven Angry Men and changed the number. Nine 1/2 Weeks stole the title of Six Weeks and changed the number. Perhaps most impressively, 1941 stole the title of 1776 and changed the number.

That doesn't even address the sneakier tactic of changing words instead of numbers, like when The Big Lebowski stole the title (and some of the plot!) of The Big Sleep, and changed "Sleep" to "Lebowski." Will the title-thievery never end?

Well, I'd better get back to work on my script for a TV thriller I'm calling 25, about a crisis that takes slightly more than a day to resolve.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Time Out of Joint

On Friday, June 4, The Globe and Mail explained:
In one of the worst messes since banks put their faith in computers, today is the fifth day in which the Royal Bank of Canada cannot tell its 10 million Canadian customers with any certainty how much money is in their accounts.

Canada's biggest bank, suddenly a symbol of risks facing an automated society, has a problem that has kept tens of millions of transactions -- including what appears to be every direct payroll deposit it handles -- from showing up in accounts for days at a time.

This computer glitch was the result of "a routine programming update," and supposedly had something to do with "sequencing." But the part of this story I like the most is this quote from a software developer:
" [ . . . ] Programmers rarely use time stamps any more because time can actually be a little imprecise. Everything gets assigned a unique sequence number."

Time can be a little imprecise. I'll remember that next time I'm late for something. (Story via Bene Diction)

Oregon Wine Country

Oregon Willamette Valley Wine Country. This photo was shot looking out from the back deck of the Maresh Red Barn tasting room.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Pink Portland Rose

A pink rose from my garden. I took this picture in the early evening, which helped create the dark background, and I shot it from about 10 feet away (handheld) with zoom to blur the background. Posted by Hello

Wisdom Teeth

Over at Apechild, apemaster writes:
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a gruesome, unbelievably painful experience, and one that I'm glad I won't have to go through again.

That is not necessarily true. It is gruesome, yes, but if it is "unbelievably painful" then I'd guess that your oral surgeon didn't do everything quite right. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I didn't feel much pain at all. I was somewhat disturbed by the idea of having the teeth removed, but it was not very painful.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

iTunes Doesn't Want You To Know Pop Songs Are About Sex

I was playing around with iTunes and decided to try creating another iMix. I made one full of songs about pimps, hos, and sex. I named my iMix "Songs About Sex" and in the description I said something like (I don't recall the exact wording) "Pimps, Hos, Sex, and more..."

In response to this, I got an email from "iTunes Abuse" saying that my iMix would not be posted because "Content in the iMix title and/or description is in violation of the iTunes Music Store Terms and Service."

This seems strange. Those songs really are about pimps, hos, and sex. If my description of them is offensive, what about the songs themselves? It's OK to download the actual songs and listen to the explicit lyrics, but it's not OK to read my completely factual description of them?

Ideas for New Reality TV Shows

  • How Many of Them Want to Marry a Polygamist?
  • For Love or Crack
  • Survivor: Iowa
  • American Fame-Whore

Party Quote

At a recent party, some of us recalled how as children, we really wanted to be movie stuntmen when we grew up. A woman there said, "Nah, I never wanted to be a stuntwoman. Ass-double, maybe . . ."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


I bought this painting by Oscar Flores-Fiol yesterday. He is a very nice guy. I spent quite a bit of time talking to him about his work. I've seen his art a few times in the last few years, and he is always experimenting with his style. His most recent work seems more impressionistic than what I had seen before. Posted by Hello